By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, area residents oppose the prohibition of recreational marijuana retail shops, social clubs, commercial cultivation, and other operations in Damariscotta, though a majority of respondents favor regulations, such as a limit on the number of business licenses and zoning.
For the past month, the town of Damariscotta has been soliciting feedback on how, if at all, the town should regulate recreational marijuana-related businesses through an 18-question survey. The survey was posted on the town’s website and in its email newsletter, and paper copies were available at the town office.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Town Manager Matt Lutkus sent an email to the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen containing the results of the survey. Of the 235 responses the town received, 150 respondents identified themselves as residents of Damariscotta. The survey results of Damariscotta residents and all respondents were almost identical.
Of the 235 people who answered the question about whether the town should prohibit the sale, commercial cultivation, manufacturing, and testing of marijuana and marijuana products in Damariscotta, 73 area residents, or 31.06 percent, were in favor of prohibition. In the Damariscotta-only results, 53 respondents, or 35.33 percent, were in favor of prohibition.
In the event that commercial marijuana activities are allowed in Damariscotta, a majority of respondents said there should be a limit on the number of licenses issued for retail sales, social clubs, cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities.
Of the respondents who answered the question, 145 area residents, or 62.23 percent, said marijuana retail sales should be limited to specific areas of town. Of those in favor of restricting marijuana retail sales to specific areas, 121 respondents said retail sales should not be allowed in residential zones, and 90 people said they should not be allowed in the C1 downtown district.
Questions about restriction of social clubs, commercial cultivation, and manufacturing and testing facilities saw similar results, with area residents being in favor of limiting the operations to specific areas of town outside the downtown and residential zones.
The overwhelming majority of area residents said retail shops, social clubs, commercial cultivation, manufacturing, and testing of marijuana and marijuana products should not be allowed within 500 feet of schools and day cares.
Responders also had the opportunity to supply anonymous comments at the end of the survey. Many made comments in favor of allowing for new business opportunities and encouraged the town to regulate marijuana as it does alcohol.
One of the comments made against allowing recreational marijuana sales said recreational marijuana would change the demographic of vacationers in town, while others expressed concern about the exposure of youth to marijuana.
Now that the town has received the results of the survey, the selectmen will discuss scheduling a community conversation to get further input, Lutkus said. The board will discuss the date for the community conversation when it meets at the town office at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 17.
The full survey results will be posted on damarisctottame.com.