METHUEN — It happened again at the polls: When asked about cannabis, city voters just said no.
Five years after opting not to band with neighboring communities like Haverhill, Amesbury and Dracut, where marijuana is available for purchase, Methuen voters Tuesday shot down a ballot measure to bring cannabis sales to the community.
2,266 people voted against a ballot measure that would have allowed city leaders to enact local legislation to grant permission for the sale, cultivation and transportation of marijuana/cannabis in the community. 1,681 voters supported the ballot measure.
Those in opposition to allowing cannabis distribution in Methuen included Linda Soucy, the founder of the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood, Inc. nonprofit, which aims to assist local children and families in one of Methuen’s inner-city neighborhoods.
Calling marijuana a “gateway drug,” Soucy believed approving cannabis sales would have an impact on Methuen youth.
“It’s sending the wrong message to the children of our community that it is okay to sell drugs in Methuen and if the city allows it, how could it be harmful to them,” Soucy said prior to the election.
Those who spoke in favor of the ballot measure touted the revenue it could have brought to the city.
“Everyone wants a Wegmans or a Trader Joe’s in Methuen, but if they wanted to set up shop here, they would have by now. This industry is looking to come to Methuen,” Central District Councilor Joel Faretra said, referring to the 3% tax paid on marijuana products that would stay in the host community. “Shops in Haverhill are writing checks for $300,000 to their city.”
Neighboring Haverhill currently has three open retail dispensaries with a fourth on the way.
“It’s an opportunity that’s bypassing us,” Perry, elected unopposed for his second two-year term Tuesday night, said prior to the cannabis decision.