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Town of Swanton greenlights retail cannabis, but Swanton Village says no

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Voters in Swanton Town gave retail cannabis sales the green light in a special election on Tuesday, while Swanton Village voters rejected the measure for the second time. In the town, cannabis sales were approved 190-159. In the village, the vote was 138-127 against cannabis sales.

Swanton Village makes up about 0.8 square miles near the town’s border with Highgate and has about 2,300 residents. The village is governed by a board of trustees and shares a number of municipal services with the town, including police and fire.

The town has about 6,700 residents overall.

More than 65 Vermont communities have approved retail cannabis establishments, including at least 25 “yes” votes on Town Meeting Day in March. Possession of cannabis is already legal across the state — as is selling the drug for medical purposes — but retail establishments seeking to sell cannabis for recreational use need local approval.

Swanton Village put the retail cannabis question on its Town Meeting Day ballot this year, but voters narrowly rejected the measure. Several weeks later, the village’s board of trustees agreed to a request to put the question up for another vote, and again the decision was no.

Retail cannabis was not up for a vote in Swanton Town on March 1.

“I’m pleased that it passed,” said James Guilmette, chair of the town’s selectboard. “It may bring more people to town. They might shop in other shops that we have.”

He said some local residents are already interested in starting a retail marijuana business in Swanton, and town officials think the community is well positioned to catch potential customers driving into Vermont from northern New York.

Retail cannabis has been approved in several other Franklin County communities, including St. Albans Town, Sheldon and Montgomery.

Guilmette said he hoped retail cannabis would be approved in Swanton Village, too, which is the town’s economic center.

Also on Tuesday, Swanton voters, along with those in Highgate and Franklin, approved the 2022-23 budget for the Missisquoi Valley School District, 542-513. Voters rejected a previous version of the budget on Town Meeting Day.

This story will be updated.

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