SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen Tuesday night agreed to just say no to an ordinance that would allow and regulate the sale and recreational use of marijuana in retail shops and social clubs in Skowhegan.

In a consensus nod, not a formal vote, of the four seated selectmen, the board directed Town Manager Christine Almand to ask the Planning Board to come up with an ordinance that would ban such marijuana establishments in Skowhegan.

Board Chairman Donald Skillings told fellow selectmen they had two roads to chose from Tuesday night in light of Skowhegan residents voting 2,152-1,879 against Question 1 on the statewide referendum ballot earlier this month.

The first road, Skillings said, was to have the Planning Board design an ordinance that would allow establishments “from one to a plethora” in town for the sale and legal consumption of marijuana.

“The next avenue is to say that the town does not want marijuana retail establishments or any of the other things that are applicable to that law and to just say ‘no — not in Skowhegan,'” Skillings said.

Selectmen, with Betty Austin absent, said they would go with the will of Skowhegan voters from Nov. 8.


“I would say that if we’re going to go with the voters, then we would go with the latter and go with the no,” Selectman Soren Siren said. The other selectmen, Paul York, Darla Pickett and Skillings, agreed.

Almand said the vote in Skowhegan was 53 percent of residents opposing the statewide measure.

Local rules on marijuana social clubs and retails sales of recreational pot was approved on the statewide ballot, but there is a recount underway, Town Clerk Gail Pellotte said.

The process in Skowhegan will be to have the Planning Board write the ordinance and have a public hearing before a final vote of the people at the annual Town Meeting or as a referendum question in June. Skillings said he would like to see a version of the ordinance by the end of January.

Almand said that after the elections in Nov. 8, Skowhegan may not be able to limit where such establishments are located in town, and that her understanding of the initiative was that the town could limit that number to zero retail stores and social clubs.

“I believe you can only limit the location if you have zoning, and Skowhegan does not have zoning,” Almand said earlier this month.


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 banning 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.

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 21 and older are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, 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.

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

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

Almand suggested that the town ask voters for a “safety net” to allow a six-month moratorium on retail establishments and social clubs if voters in June chose not to approve an outright ban. That would give town officials time to compose an ordinance that reflected that vote, she said.


Selectmen agreed.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.

filed under: