Voters rebuff allowing retail pot sales in shops


By a margin of 157 votes, the electorate decided Tuesday not to allow local businesses to cultivate, manufacture, test or sell recreational marijuana in Jamestown.

The referendum to allow the cannabis industry to operate locally was rejected with 52.6 percent of the vote, 1,608 to 1,451. Legislation signed in May legalized recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, and that law had a provision allowing cities and towns to determine whether they want to have cannabis businesses to be licensed within their municipalities.

Jamestown, by voting down the question, potentially loses revenue by opting out of the law. The legislation establishes a 20 percent tax on cannabis, which includes a 7 percent sales tax for the state’s general fund and a 3 percent local tax for the municipality where the sale is recorded. The remaining 10 percent excise tax will finance a “marijuana trust fund” for administration, enforcement, awareness campaigns and treatment programs.

The vote follows an ordinance passed by the town council in September that made smoking marijuana in public a civil violation with fines ranging from $100 to $500. According to the law, “no person shall smoke or vaporize cannabis in public places, including outdoor common areas, parks, beaches, schools, school property, recreational facilities, motor vehicles on public property or highways, and other public spaces.”