DERRY — Voters will face a ballot question that is for informational purposes only, asking how people feel about the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The Town Council voted to approve putting the non-binding question on the town’s March 8 ballot.
The question would read, “Are you in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis (marijuana) in New Hampshire?”
The article and its voting results are non-binding, with no decisions being made, and for informational use only.
Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon has been speaking out on the matter, hoping to get the non-binding referendum question on the ballot.
He said Derry’s tax rate is high, people are worried about their taxes and having legalized recreational marijuana is one way that could potentially help bring revenue to town.
“People are begging us to do something,” Bourdon said.
The article on the ballot will also stress that the question is non-binding and voters should be aware that any vote one way or another is for data information purposes only.
The discussion on marijuana has been a big topic at the state level, Bourdon said, where decisions are ultimately made.
He added Derry is a typically conservative community so how the question is answered will offer a lot of information.
“Not sure how it will end up, but I’m really curious,” Bourdon said.
With Derry being the fourth largest community in the state, Bourdon felt it would be a good community to sample with this type of question.
If and when a legalized decision on recreational marijuana ever touched Derry, it might also put town planning and decisions on the list moving forward.
Councilor Neil Wetherbee said if voters in Derry ever wanted this, that could push for work on future zoning and planning efforts to make sure any type of cannabis business would find the right and legal space to operate.
“It starts the process,” Wetherbee said.
Town Council Chairman Jim Morgan said the results from this non-binding question would provide valuable information.
“It provides a data point, a valuable data point to understand,” Morgan said.
He added many communities are already reaping revenue benefits from this type of business.
“It’s all around us, and we are missing out,” Morgan said. “I look at it as a bleed. I think we are bleeding revenue from New Hampshire.”
Officials stressed that the question appearing on the March 8 ballot concerning legalized recreational marijuana is non-binding and no decisions will come of the results.
If the questions passes, councilors cannot proceed to regulating the sale of recreational marijuana or designating zoning districts where such sales could take place until the state legislature votes to allow the sale of recreational marijuana.
Officials also stressed that getting information out to voters is key prior to the election.
“We need to do a very good job of getting information out there,” said Councilor Charlie Foote. “It’s just a question. Are you for it or not? That needs to be crystal clear.”
Town and school district elections are Tuesday, March 8 with polls open in Derry from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Calvary Bible Church, 145 Hampstead Road.