No weed-smoking in town, Edgartown voters say

$100 fine established and delay approved for marijuana zoning at special town meeting.

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The Edgartown special town meeting was held Tuesday night at the Old Whaling Church with at least 5 percent of Edgartown’s 3,628 registered voters present for a quorum.

There were nine articles on the warrant, all of which were unanimously approved by voters with the exception of two marijuana-related articles, which were approved after amendments. Article 2 asked voters to consider a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana retailers and related businesses until Dec. 31, 2018, or until the town decides to enact zoning amendments.

Police Chief David Rossi addressed the article, stating that the cannabis industry hasn’t come up with the rules and regulations that would allow the town to make an informed decision yet. One resident proposed a minor amendment to the language of the moratorium expiration, which states a Dec. 31 termination or a town-enacted termination, adding the phase, “whichever occurs first.” The modification was favored by the majority.

Article 3 asked voters to approve a bylaw prohibiting public consumption of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), making it unlawful to use or consume while on any street, sidewalk, or public way, in addition to other areas outlined in the proposal. The proposal also prohibited use on any area owned by or under control of the town. If violated, a $100 fine could be issued.

Voters questioned the language of “areas owned by or under control of the town.” Edgartown resident Joe Alstat asked, “So would it be illegal for people living in affordable housing units to smoke marijuana?”

An amendment to the warrant added the word “open” to the line “…Or any [open] area owned by or under the control of the town …”

The article sparked discussion about tobacco regulations, which moderator Jeff Norton said would complicate things too much. Selectmen chairman Arthur Smadbeck agreed. “If we bring in tobacco, it detracts from what we’re trying to do here,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

The point of the article was to deter public consumption of marijuana. “You can’t light up a joint in town,” town administrator Pam Dolby said.

Voters approved an article that encourages selectmen take all necessary steps to lease a town-owned parcel of land at 38 Meshacket Road for a period up to 99 years for affordable housing. The developer would be selected through a public bidding process.

Voters approved an article accepting the recommendations made by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management. The study looked at the classification and compensation of Edgartown town employees, and appropriated $217,698 to fund the recommendations.

Voters approved $6,000 for the park department expense account, $11,000 for the replacement of three decks at Edgartown police station, and $14,000 for a new server at town hall. The final vote of the night was to spend $18,066 to fund unpaid bills from fiscal 2017.

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