WILMINGTON — Residents will have another chance to determine if cannabis should be allowed to be sold by retailers in town.
Charlotte Verry of Wilmington submitted a petition with 92 signatures in support of the revote. Needed were 82 and Town Clerk Therese Lounsbury confirmed 90 were legal voters in town.
No date has yet been set for the revote. Lounsbury said she sent some recommendations to the Select Board along with the petition.
“So I’m waiting to hear from them,” she said. “It will be the Select Board’s decision. Based on the timing, there aren’t a ton of options.”
The revote has to be held within 60 days of the town receiving the petition.
Verry said she was busy Thursday but could be interviewed later when the date of the vote is set. Town Manager Scott Tucker anticipates the Select Board will make the decision at its meeting Tuesday.
Residents voted 173-85 by ballot in favor of allowing retail cannabis sales in Wilmington.
In a letter to the editor of the Deerfield Valley News explaining the reasoning behind the petition, Verry said she believes retail cannabis sales downtown “will hurt the culture and safety of our town.”
“Our small town is often seen as a refuge and escape from the challenges of city life, and allowing retail locations to sell marijuana products will irreparably alter the culture of our town,” she wrote.
As a mother, Verry said, she’s also concerned about the safety of families.
“Recreational cannabis consumption can lead to dangerous drugged driving on our roads,” she wrote. “In addition, when drugs are legally sold, many youth perceive that legal equals safe. And there are numerous studies about the harm that marijuana inflicts on developing minds.”
Christian Engel and Jennifer Betit-Engel, the couple who owns Ratu’s Liquor and Market and want to sell cannabis products at their downtown store, petitioned to have the initial vote. In a letter submitted to the Reformer and the Deerfield Valley News, they described being “bummed that there will be a revote.”
“We have thousands of dollars invested already in the development of our future business and are so excited for the local growers who also want to partake in this momentous opportunity for not only ourselves, but for our community,” they wrote. “We now have to tell four local tradesmen that we will need to wait on the infrastructure of transforming part of our space to allow for the sale of marijuana sales.”
The couple said residents “voted once in a 2-1 victory, and now we will all come out again and do the same.” In the letter, they recounted how many community members stopped by their store to sign in support within the first day of posting on social media.
“So many folks excited for this monumental time in history!” they wrote. “After the first day we already had enough signatures! We waited a couple more days to ensure we had enough signatures, as some folks insisted on signing even when they weren’t residents in Wilmington. These folks stated that they wanted the town to be aware of all of the outside support for the article. When we handed in our petition, we did so confidently with nearly double the number of signatures we needed to be included in our town meeting.”
The couple said they had overwhelming support and shares when they posted a sample ballot for the first vote. They noted the new businesses will employ people, and bring economic vitality and growth to the town.
The couple said they respect opposition but questioned why it is coming after the vote. They also noted how they are parents.