Ludlow voters defeat cannabis retail sales for second time

Ludlow residents voted against allowing a cannabis dispensary in their town on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Photo provided

LUDLOW, Vt. – Ludlow voters rejected the retail cannabis article for a second time during a special election on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The final vote count was 249 ‘No,’ versus 204 ‘Yes.’

An earlier vote on Tuesday, Nov. 2 also ended in defeat but by a scant 17-vote margin with

179 voting ‘No’ and 162 voting ‘Yes.’ The slim differential prompted Andrea Goldman and partner Meredith Milliken, the duo who established “Gotta Love Ludlow” and were behind the initial legislation, to submit a petition for revote.

Although initially receiving encouragement from several business owners and supporters to try again, a recent spate of social media backlash forewarned that the second vote would likely not turn out in their favor, according to Goldman.

Although disappointed, Goldman and Milliken were grateful that they were able to provide information and education on the subject in an effort to help the town. “The real important thing is that from day one we tried to benefit the town both from a financial and from a public health standpoint,” Goldman said.

The Black River Area Community Coalition has been the most vocal opposition to the cannabis sales measure in Ludlow. According to Executive Director Paul Faenza of BRACC, the organization’s mission has been the prevention of marijuana use, as well as alcohol and other drugs, among children.

In 2016, BRACC partnered with Ludlow to pass an ordinance prohibiting a vape and marijuana paraphernalia shop from taking residence in town. Faenza was concerned when the vote for cannabis sales came up, but hoped that Ludlow would choose to support the spirit of the earlier ordinance and was happy with the first vote outcome.

Once aware of the revote, Faenza said he was confident it would be defeated again because so many people called or emailed him with their support saying, ‘We don’t need this for our town.’

“We were confident after the first vote and hoping for the outcome that we got, and we’re happy,” Faenza said.

Goldman and Milliken meanwhile are content to stay in the home they’ve had in Ludlow for 18 years and figure out new ways to help benefit the town of Ludlow. As for retail cannabis, they say they still firmly believe in the cause and are willing help others who may be looking to take up the mantle in their own towns.

Final state-wide rules for adult cannabis sales should be adopted by Vermont state legislators in March 2022, and licenses will be issued to towns who have voted to opt-in, in October of 2022.


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