Sandwich Special Town Meeting Voters Approve Marijuana Store Ban

CCB MEDIA PHOTO

SANDWICH – Sandwich has joined a growing list of Cape Cod communities that have banned the operation of commercial marijuana shops.

At their special town meeting Monday night, residents overwhelmingly approved an article that stops the pot shops from opening.

Those in favor of the article said it was a matter of keeping children safe in Sandwich and avoiding an increase in drug use and crime.

“I am here as a concerned parent frustrated with the constant attack in this culture war that seems determined to control and destroy our children in every possible way,” said resident Diane Spitz.

They argued any promise of increased tax revenue was not worth the risk of harming the health of Sandwich’s residents.

Opponents said there was no concrete evidence that recreational marijuana led to more crime or addiction. They also said marijuana shops would add to the tax base.

“We went through this with Prohibition. We know it doesn’t work. You don’t let people buy alcohol? Guess what? Someone will get them (alcohol) and those people will be criminals, those people will be violent. I’m not saying all people that sell drugs are violent, I’ve known many,” said resident Michael Heras.

But one resident said it was strange that previous efforts to bring in new retail to Sandwich was opposed in the past, but marijuana shops would suddenly be welcomed.

The ban does not impact medical marijuana facilities from opening in Sandwich.

In other action, Sandwich residents approved a zoning change that would allow for additional uses of the Henry T. Wing School in the future.

It passed by the needed two-thirds majority, 261-to-15.

Supporters said the measure would allow for an imaginative reuse of the property, while others argued that any zoning change should ensure the original part of the building should be protected.

The move will allow municipal parcels to be redeveloped into other public or private uses. That could include artist studios, museums, assisted living facilities, adult day care and cultural facilities, among others.

The town has been debating what to do with the old school since it closed in 2015.

The Cape Cod Collaborative is leasing the building until 2020, but what the building should be used for after that is undecided.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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