SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen are crafting ideas for local rules on marijuana social clubs and retails sales in town, a week after recreational pot was approved on the statewide ballot and even as Skowhegan residents voted 2,152-1,879 against Question 1.

With a local controlled-substance facility ordinance already in place regulating methadone clinics and medical marijuana dispensaries, Skowhegan selectmen now want to see if residents will back a measure regulating retail marijuana and marijuana social clubs.

A registered facility under the existing controlled-substance ordinance in Skowhegan was adopted in 2011 by voters at Town Meeting and updated to include methadone clinics last June. Such facilities can be located only on U.S. Route 201, U.S. Route 2 east of the downtown area and at the Northgate or Southgate industrial parks.

Prohibited zones include 1,000 feet from an existing school or any of the town’s so-called “safe zones,” including ballfields on South Factory Street, East Maple Street and the community center.

But regulations on retail sales of pot might not be so easy to impose, Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand said Monday.

“Potentially, there would be one version that bans them and potentially another version that allows them with a limited number,” Almand said. “We’re still waiting also to see what the Department of Agriculture sets for rules. This is very early in the process. It’s going to take months for us to see anything.”

Jason Gayne, executive director of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce, said he has not see anything in writing and chose to withhold comment until he knows what measures will be going to voters.

Kristina Cannon, executive director at Main Street Skowhegan, said she, too, has not see the proposal.

“Typically, we opt to stay neutral on such matters,” she said.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and is legal only for medical use under state law. With the passage of Question 1 on Nov. 8, adults are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces, grow their own plants and buy marijuana from licensed retail stores. The initiative also allows marijuana social clubs and places a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana. Marijuana use would be prohibited in public, with violations punishable by a $100 fine.

The new law takes effect within 40 days. Regulations for marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by Aug. 8, 2017.

In the weeks leading up to the election, some Maine communities — including Westbrook, Portland and Saco — considered moratoriums on retail marijuana establishments to allow officials time to develop zoning regulations or outright bans on those types of businesses.

“The way I read the legislation, we may not be able to limit where they’re located. I believe you can only limit the location if you have zoning, and Skowhegan does not have zoning,” Almand said. “What we would be looking to do is to see if the citizens want to restrict it to a number of facilities.”

Almand said selectmen and the Planning Board still have to work through what type of ordinance want they to present to voters in June.

“I’m not quite sure what that will look like yet,” she said. “It could possibly be that we have more than one ordinance to present. From what I understand, we could limit that number to zero retail stores and social clubs.”

Almand said she did some research on how to put regulations in place and based some of her notes on an ordinance in the town of Gray, which includes retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivating facilities and retail products manufacturing. Selectmen have until Town Meeting next June to craft a measure so voters will know where they stand on the issue.

Meanwhile, in Farmington, the Board of Selectmen there will hold a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday on whether to approve an amended warrant for a special town meeting scheduled for Nov. 22. The amendment is to Article 2, the moratorium on retail marijuana establishments. A legal review of the previously approved warrant article has shown it to be insufficient, Farmington Town Manager Richard P. Davis said in an email. A new, more extensive ordinance will be substituted once it is received from legal counsel, he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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