Essex, VT — Voters in Essex overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure that will allow for retail cannabis sales in town.

Nearly 3,600 voters, or nearly 60 percent of those who cast ballots at Town Meeting on Tuesday, voted yes on the measure.

Essex was one of more than 40 Vermont communities set to vote Tuesday on whether or not to allow for retail cannabis sales.

Meredith Mann, the co-owner of Magic Mann in Essex Junction, says cannabis sales would help the community and would help eliminate the black market.

“This has been a life-long struggle for me as a cannabis advocate and activist,” said Mann. “You’re allowed to legally grow cannabis and consume it, but have nowhere to buy it and that just promotes a black market.”

Kyle Rapoza, owner of Mansfield Provisions & MP Labs said, “I think the worry of it causing a bad scene in the town or kids having access to it when it’s regulated and when it’s a real business it’s easier to ensure that those things don’t happen. It’s great the state let us opt-in, but I think the more towns that opt, the better chance the industry has to succeed.”

Nearly 2,500 voters opposed the measure, however, some claiming that they are worried about children or it affecting people at work.

“I just worry about the kids,” said a resident. “We should be teaching them that it’s not good for young kids like me when I was younger so that’s my only concern, and I just wish these politicians would draw a line and kind of say that.”

Retail cannabis would only be for adult use, similar to laws and regulations around alcohol, for those 21 and up.

“Just like alcohol, we need to regulate that and make sure people are safe,” said Mann. “I tell people all the time, it’s perfectly fine to tell people to use cannabis to help you get relief from something, and it’s perfectly fine to use it in a recreational way as well.”