Despite Edgecomb’s 437-373 vote to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2016, the results of a recent survey show opposition to recreational-marijuana businesses within town limits.
The Edgecomb Ordinance Review Committee distributed 650 surveys and received 222 back. The committee mailed the surveys to every household and P.O. box in town.
Each survey asked whether the respondent wants the town to issue licenses for each of five categories of recreational-marijuana businesses or “none of the above.”
Of the respondents, 42 percent support licensing for commercial cultivation. The percentages drop from there: 40.9 percent favor manufacturing, 40 percent retail sales, 39.6 percent testing, and 26.5 percent social clubs.
The majority of respondents, 52 percent, would prefer to see “none of the above.”
Comments include “I do not want this in my town at all!” and “You’re asking for trouble!” as well as a request to require a “filtration system” to prevent the spread of the crop’s distinct odor.
The question of how to regulate recreational marijuana was the topic of a joint meeting of the Edgecomb Planning Board and Edgecomb Ordinance Review Committee at the town hall Thursday, Oct. 19.
The planning board intends to present five ordinances regarding the five categories of businesses at the annual town meeting in May 2018. A motion by board member David Nutt to formally express the board’s intent to do so carried 5-0.
The planning board discussed whether the votes should take place by secret ballot the day prior to the town meeting or in the open meeting itself. Members also discussed whether to restrict recreational-marijuana businesses to a certain area or areas.
“I really wouldn’t want a retail place in my neighbor’s garage on High Head Road,” planning board member Pat Jeremiah said.
Ordinance review committee member Skip White said retail businesses are unlikely to open in low-traffic locations.
“It’s kind of like people being concerned that someone is going to open a Jiffy Lube at Goah Way and River Road,” White said. “It’s a matter of supply and demand. Nobody’s going to drive to High Head to buy pot if there’s a place on Route 1.”
The town could adopt less restrictive zoning for categories of recreational-marijuana businesses more likely to blend in with their surroundings and less likely to have much impact on neighbors.
“If you’re going to allow testing facilities and manufacturing facilities, why do you care where it is in the town?” planning board member Barry Hathorne said. The businesses could appear similar to an average office building or manufacturing facility.
There was general agreement among the planning board to propose a ban on social clubs due to the nearly 3-to-1 margin of disapproval in the survey.
The legal status of recreational-marijuana businesses remains uncertain. The Maine Legislature passed a bill Monday, Oct. 23 to establish rules for the businesses, but legislators expect Gov. Paul LePage to veto it, according to the Portland Press Herald.
None of the potential restrictions on recreational marijuana would affect the existing medical-marijuana storefront on Route 1, Downeast Medicinals.
In other business, the town’s moratorium on floating structures expired in September. Nutt said the Edgecomb Board of Selectmen should renew the moratorium if it still can. The selectmen did not address the matter during their meeting Monday, Oct. 23.