WHITMAN — Voters in the town’s Saturday, March 17 special Town Meeting voted nearly two-to-one in favor of a protective zoning bylaw banning all forms of recreational marijuana sales in Whitman.
The vote was 543 supporting the bylaw and 307 against the ban with 850 registered voters casting ballots. Town Clerk Dawn Varley said the light turnout was not entirely surprising for a one-issue special election and that quite a few voters had questions about the wording in a situation where a “yes” vote was against recreational sales while a “no” vote would support it.
“I think it was pretty much the average for a special election and a special interest,” she said. “I think people knew what they were voting for … they weren’t undecided.”
The wording of the question was “the worst part about it,” Varley noted.
“Some people were unsure of what ‘yes’ meant and what ‘no’ meant,” she said. “My election workers were told that, if there were any questions to send them to our office so it couldn’t be misconstrued that they were directing someone to vote a certain way.”
Two town officials — Selectmen Vice Chairman Dan Salvucci and School Committee member Fred Small — attending the results reading following the 5 p.m., polls closing expressed satisfaction at the result.
“No pot shops in Whitman,” Salvucci said. “Although the people want marijuana [legalized] in the state of Massachusetts and in Whitman, but the town of Whitman does not want it sold here.”
Voters had supported the 2016 state ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana in the Bay State.
“I voted yes,” Salvucci said of the ban. “I did not want the sale of marijuana in Whitman.”
Small described himself as a “happy School Committee member” in view of the result during an interview with WHCA-TV at Town Hall.
“I’m very glad, personally, that this didn’t pass,” Small said. “Although I do understand it is legal, it’s just not the image that I want to see projected for our hometown.”
Salvucci said marijuana could be a gateway drug to more addictive narcotics.
“I can understand the medical [use],” Salvucci said.