The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen has decided to delay further conversation about a temporary ban on marijuana establishments and social clubs until the state of Maine establishes regulations governing legalization.
The selectmen discussed the matter during their meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Prior to Election Day, the board discussed the possibility of enacting a moratorium on marijuana establishments and social clubs in the event voters approved Question 1, which legalizes recreational marijuana, subject to regulation and taxation, for adults 21 and up.
Maine voters approved the ballot initiative with a vote of 381,692-377,619, according to the Bangor Daily News.
A petition requesting a recount of Question 1 was submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday, Nov. 16, according to the Bangor Daily News. A recount will be scheduled if officials can verify at least 100 signatures of registered voters.
Selectman George Parker, who was acting as chairman due to the absence of Robin Mayer, suggested that the town hold off on implementing a moratorium on marijuana establishments and social clubs.
“It doesn’t make sense to proceed with anything more at this point until we know for sure what we’re dealing with,” Parker said.
Under the proposed legislation, a municipality may regulate the number of retail marijuana stores, the location and operation of marijuana establishments and social clubs, and may prohibit the operation of retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.
Parker said while the question’s language was “very clear” about what municipalities can regulate regarding retail marijuana sales and social clubs, it is not clear whether towns can control where large growing facilities can be located.
“We would need to make some allowances for it in our land use ordinance, like where in town it could be, but I don’t think we have the authority to say we don’t want it,” Parker said.
Selectmen Jim Cosgrove and Ronn Orenstein agreed with Parker.
“I would suggest we wait until the dust settles and the state gets somewhere with their rule-making so we have an idea what we’re dealing with,” Cosgrove said.
Town Manager Matt Lutkus said he discussed the matter with town attorney Jenny Villeneuve, who recommended that the town wait until it knows how to word the moratorium based on the specifics of the regulations.
Selectmen said they would also like to get feedback from residents on the matter.
Damariscotta voters approved Question 1 with a vote of 736-611, according to unofficial results.
While the vote was in favor, “it provides no indication of whether the townspeople want to regulate the location of these establishments or if they even want these retail establishments in town,” Lutkus said.