Damariscotta residents will vote on whether to ban the distribution of single-use carryout plastic bags and whether to “opt in” to allow medical and adult-use marijuana establishments on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The first question on the ballot is the proposed ban on plastic bags.
Selectman Amy Leshure wrote the ordinance with help from the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The purpose is to protect the environment and the local fishing, shellfish, and tourist industries, according to the ordinance.
The selectmen held a community conversation and three public hearings on the ordinance in the past few months, resulting in changes to the document, such as the removal of a 10-cent fee for paper bags and the removal of a ban on polystyrene foam food containers.
Supporters of the bag ban say it would help protect the environment, especially the ocean, from plastic pollution.
Opponents say the ban could hurt local businesses, which would need to find alternatives to the inexpensive bags; and reduce convenience for shoppers, even though most people dispose of the bags responsibly.
The next three questions on the ballot pertain to marijuana. A new state law gives local governments the responsibility and authority to regulate the location, operation, permitting, approval, and licensing of new medical marijuana retail stores, registered dispensaries, testing facilities, and manufacturing facilities, according to Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus.
The law will go into effect Dec. 13, 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature.
The first marijuana question, the second question on the ballot, will ask voters whether to enact a moratorium on new commercial medical marijuana facilities, so new establishments cannot open until the town develops ordinances to govern them.
The last two questions will ask voters about whether to “opt in” or authorize recreational or “adult-use” marijuana establishments and medical marijuana establishments.
Those questions read as follows:
Adult use opt-in: “Shall the town vote to authorize the operation of adult use (recreational) marijuana establishments, in a number and of a type to be determined, potentially including stores, cultivation facilities, products manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, contingent upon the passage of state regulations, and adoption of local licensing and zoning ordinances?”
Medical marijuana opt-in: “Shall the town vote to authorize the operation of medical marijuana establishments, potentially including registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities contingent upon the passage of state regulations and adoption of local licensing and zoning ordinances?”
If voters approve either or both of the articles, they would consider specific licensing and zoning regulations at a special town meeting in early 2019, according to Lutkus. A no vote would not affect existing businesses.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town office.