The Berkshire Eagle  reports a divided Cheshire annual town meeting defeated a measure to ban outdoor marijuana farms in town that likely faced rejection by the state attorney general.

Voters on Monday night were deadlocked, 43-43, regarding a citizen-sponsored general bylaw prohibiting open-air commercial cultivation of cannabis. The tie vote in essence defeated the proposal town officials expected would be dead on arrival when it reached the AG's Office.

Cheshire's town counsel Ed St. John III, father of Town Administrator Ed St. John IV, said regulating outdoor marijuana facilities requires an amendment to the town's zoning regulation that town meeting voters approved a year ago. Since the AG has the final say on the legal validity of local bylaws, St. John III, citing court cases and previous AG rulings, said the AG's Office would likely reject a general bylaw trying to regulate marijuana projects.

Several voters for and against the bylaw said it at least sends a message to town planners that the current zoning doesn't adequately address all aspects of growing pot for recreational and/or medical use.

Bylaw proponents feared outdoor marijuana cultivation would create an unacceptable odor from the plants and negatively impact the overall public heath and safety of the town.

Other voters opposed to the bylaw felt it went too far and would restrict an individual's state right to grow marijuana in their home.

While several retail and cultivation marijuana businesses have been talked about in town, town officials have yet to receive — let alone consider approving — pot-related projects.

The marijuana bylaw discussion capped a nearly four-hour gathering at the former Cheshire Elementary School, where debate over the $6.26 million for fiscal 2020 dominated about half the meeting.


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