Barrington Town Council sending marijuana question to voters

Community will decide whether to allow marijuana businesses in Barrington

By Josh Bickford
Posted 6/8/22

Should there be a recreational cannabis retail store in Barrington?

Members of the Barrington Town Council discussed that question during their meeting on Monday night, June 6, and eventually …

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Barrington Town Council sending marijuana question to voters

Community will decide whether to allow marijuana businesses in Barrington

Posted

Should there be a recreational cannabis retail store in Barrington?

Members of the Barrington Town Council discussed that question during their meeting on Monday night, June 6, and eventually voted 3-2 to let the town’s residents decide. The question will be placed on the ballot during this November’s elections.

The issue surfaced in front of the council after the state legalized recreational marijuana recently. Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll opened the discussion on Monday night and reminded everyone that if Barrington did allow for the retail sale of recreational cannabis then the town could be eligible to receive additional tax revenue. 

Denise Alves, the executive director of the town’s prevention coalition, asked members of the council to let the community decide. She also suggested holding additional workshops for the public where more information could be shared prior to the November vote.

Thomas “TR” Rimoshytus told the council members that they should do nothing, which would automatically result in the town allowing marijuana businesses in Barrington. He said marijuana was not as bad as people think it is. 

Another resident spoke during the discussion and said he was concerned about people driving vehicles under the influence of marijuana. He said he rides a motorcycle and smells marijuana coming from other vehicles every time he goes out for a ride. 

Carroll reminded people that the state had already legalized recreational marijuana, and that the council’s discussion was focused on whether to allow a retail outlet in town. 

Kristen Westmoreland, another official with the town’s prevention coalition, said she supported putting the question to voters in the fall. She also asked if people could refer to it as “adult use” and not “recreational use” as there are concerns that the term recreational may be more inviting and attractive to younger people. Carroll said that was a fair point.

Eventually, council members shared their thoughts on the issue.

Carroll said he was in favor of allowing marijuana retail stores in Barrington, as it would offer a boost to local businesses and provide additional tax revenue to the town.

Annelise Conway said she wanted to allow residents to vote on the issue. She said allowing the vote would offer an opportunity for greater community discussion and involvement. She also said that she believed the legalization of recreational or adult marijuana came quickly to this state and pushing the decision to the fall offers residents more time to discuss the issue with their family members and neighbors.

Rob Humm agreed with Conway. He said pushing the vote to November would allow for greater community discussion and feedback. 

Jacob Brier said he agreed with the importance of community engagement on this issue, but had concerns about a referendum vote falling victim to misinformation. He said for that reason he preferred to not send it to the November ballot. 

With councilors split 2-2, Carl Kustell held the tie-breaking vote. He said he sided with Humm and Conway, and called for the question to be voted upon by residents this November. 

“It makes sense to have the voters weigh in on it,” Kustell said. 

A short time later Kustell made a motion to have residents vote on the issue in November. Humm seconded the motion, which carried 3-2.

Barrington officials are still planning to take the necessary steps to address any zoning and planning issues that could arise with the allowance of marijuana retail sales, should voters approve the measure in the fall.

How many stores

During an earlier workshop, Alves said the state is being divided into different zones, and each zone will have a limited number of recreational marijuana retail outlets. Barrington is located in Zone 6, Alves said, along with Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, Tiverton, Portsmouth, New Shoreham, Little Compton, Warren, East Providence, Newport and Pawtucket. Alves said there would be a total of four retail outfits allowed in Zone 6.

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