JAMAICA — Residents voted 51-37 in favor of allowing cannabis retail sales in town.
Vermont is set to begin to allow recreational cannabis sales next year. The Select Board warned Wednesday’s vote to see if the community would want to host the retailers and “integrated licensees,” which covers growing packaging, distribution and lab work.
“I feel like this is the first step to lay the foundation and from here, there’s still a lot of building that needs to be done,” Select Board Chairman Greg Meulemans said during an informational meeting held remotely Monday.
The vote can later be rescinded. It was held the same day as the budget vote by ballot for the West River Education District, which spans Jamaica, Brookline, Newfane, Townshend and Windham.
Vermont municipalities have already started to vote on whether to allow retail cannabis. On annual Town Meeting Day earlier this month, positive votes were secured in Brattleboro, Bennington, Burlington, Winooski, Danville, Sutton, Burke and Barton, according to the Burlington Free Press. Richmond, Lyndon and Newport opted out.
A lot of details on the rollout of retail cannabis are still being worked out, Meulemans said. He pointed to potential economic opportunities for the town.
Several residents have told Town Clerk Sara Wiswall they would like to see Jamaica voters adopt a 1 percent local option sales tax if there’s a positive vote on retail cannabis sales “so we would be getting a pretty good kickback on the tax at least,” she said at the meeting.
At the polls at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Wiswall reported a good turnout so far. She had COVID-19 pandemic protections in place to ensure the safety of voters.