OAKLAND — The Town Council plans to vote Wednesday night on the first reading of an ordinance that proposes prohibiting recreational marijuana retail stores, cultivation and testing facilities, and social clubs.

The proposal would effectively make Oakland a “dry town” for recreational marijuana, but would not affect medical marijuana. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Cascade Room in the Oakland Police Station on Fairfield Street.

On the election ballot, a majority of Oakland voters were against the Question 1 referendum, 1,914-1,620, which passed with a narrow 4,000-vote margin statewide, according to unofficial results. Opponents called for a recount, which is now underway.

If the referendum passes in the recount, it will be legal for people 21 or older to buy or possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes, as well as allow for retail marijuana stores and social clubs.

Even though the vote is uncertain, cities and towns across the state are quickly moving to enact moratoriums on businesses related to recreational marijuana. However, Oakland doesn’t have the option of a moratorium because of its outdated comprehensive plan from 1996, which doesn’t contain zoning rules.

With few choices, the Town Council decided to look at banning the recreational marijuana-related businesses, citing concerns over safety and regulations.

“I don’t think we need that in Oakland,” said council Vice Chairman Dana Wrigley. “We’re not doing anything to regulate what people do as far as if they want to smoke it. We can keep the sales places out of Oakland.”

Wrigley echoed concerns of other councilors as well as other towns, which is that they don’t know what the state rules and regulations are going to be yet.

David Boyer, campaign director for Yes on 1, said the group respects the towns rights to regulate the marijuana business “how they see fit.”

“That’s why local control was written into Question 1,” Boyer said.

However, he said the decision to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses is a mistake. “There’s still going to be marijuana sold in Oakland, just as it is now,” he said. “It’s just going to be sold by drug dealers who don’t check ID.”

Town Manager Gary Bowman said the council could revisit the ordinance in the future if they needed to.

“Who knows how this is gonna go down the road from now? It may become just as common as beer,” he said, adding that it will still be legal to possess and smoke marijuana, as well as grow plants for personal use. “There’s nothing saying we can’t change this a year or so down the road.”

An ordinance requires two readings. If it passes at both readings, it will become town law.

Wrigley said at a previous meeting that he personally voted against Question 1. In a phone call on Tuesday, he said he personally feels that marijuana businesses could increase the town’s crime rate or the number of people driving while impaired.

Boyer, of the Yes on 1 campaign, also said the moratoriums many towns are enforcing are not necessary, because no licenses for businesses will be handed out until the state crafts its rules and regulations.

“State licensing will be at least nine months from now,” he said.

Boyer said municipalities should look at marijuana businesses as a way to regulate the drug.

“We hope that towns see the benefits of a regulated market where we have control over marijuana, rather than no control,” he said.

Oakland, so far, has not received any inquiries from residents or any interest from someone who wants to start a recreational marijuana business in town.

“We haven’t had any input on this at all,” Bowman said, adding that the council meetings are public and allow for discussion if people want to come and voice their opinions.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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