A Massachusetts Town Council Overrules Mayor's Veto of a Recreational Marijuana Ban

The tension was high at Monday night's meeting of the West Springfield Town Council. Residents supporting recreational marijuana filled the front row of the meeting, holding signs that called for a referendum vote. The council voted to overrule the mayor's veto of the town ban on recreational marijuana sales.

Supporters of the ban shouted insults at the protestors, calling them “potheads.” The voices of those in favor of recreational sales were silenced – the council refused to allow public comments before their eight-to-one vote to override the mayor's veto.

Mayor Will Reichelt exercised his right to veto a city council decision for the very first time over the council's initial ban. Reichelt told the press he wanted more time to look into how adult-use cannabis sales could benefit West Springfield and its residents.

Reichelt pointed out how the town benefits from retail in general due to its interstate location as a place to get on and off the highway. He called the town the crossroads of New England, saying he believes the town stands to benefit financially from marijuana sales.

According to Reichelt, the issue could still be put to a town-wide vote, which is exactly what marijuana proponents in the area are hoping will happen. In Massachusetts, the results of the ballot question would be non-binding for town leaders but could influence the council's decision.

Supporters would need to raise 2,000 signatures to get a recreational marijuana question on the ballot. Council member Bruce Gendron said the council wants to first see how other communities fare with the problems of legal sales.

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