OAKLAND — Town Manager Gary Bowman opened up a discussion Wednesday night at a Town Council meeting about what to do in town if Question 1, which proposes legalizing marijuana use in Maine, passes in the Nov. 8 election.

“Everybody’s starting to talk about it,” Bowman said. “If it’s not on our mind, it’s got to be on our mind.”

In a meeting with other town managers in the area, Bowman said, it seemed as though no one really knew what to do. He’s concerned about the potential for liability issues involving town employees who are on-call at all hours, such as police officers, firefighters and public works employees.

Right now, he said, the town doesn’t meet any of the requirements to place a moratorium on regulating the sale of marijuana or establishment of social clubs. A lawyer advised him to wait and see what happens in November, but most other town managers think Question 1 probably will pass.

Bowman said that another issue is testing. If a police officer were to use marijuana and then go to work a day or two later and get involved in an altercation that later would require drug testing, “there’s no real way to test for impairment,” he said.

The drug test looks for either the presence or absence of THC, but the test for the level of impairment can take four hours and isn’t effective enough, Bowman said.

Harold Buzzell, a candidate for Town Council who attended the meeting, added that THC can remain in the body for much longer periods than alcohol, and how long can depend on body type.

Councilor Don Borman said he agreed with the lawyer’s advice.

“I guess the wait-and-see makes sense, for the most part, because my guess is whatever passes is going to be refined,” he said.

He also said he could remember a time when alcohol wasn’t sold in a number of the area towns, so he’s expecting similar possibilities for regulations if Question 1 passes.

“We could be a ‘dry’ town,” Bowman said.

In other business, the Town Council voted 5-0 to accept a proposed policy and report system from the safety committee. The committee wants to track “near miss” accidents to spot problem areas or employees who need more training.

Bowman also asked the council to let the safety committee have $1,000 from annual insurance savings to build up a fund for safety equipment and training, which would be in addition to what the individual town departments provide.

“There’s no downside to this. It would further increase our effectiveness,” Bowman said. The committee’s work, he said, is part of the reason why the town’s insurance rate has decreased by 35 percent.

The council approved a motion to let the committee use future money from savings by a 5-0 vote.

Town Clerk Janice Porter also announced that the Town Office will be open 8 a.m. to noon this weekend for absentee voting. So far, Oakland has sent out 1,120 absentee ballots. In 2012, Porter said, just over 3,200 people voted.

“I can see that number growing,” she said, adding that people should take advantage of absentee voting to avoid long lines.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.