CLINTON — Following the lead of many other towns in central Maine, the town of Clinton may look to impose regulations on the use of recreational marijuana and enact a moratorium on pot-related businesses.

The Board of Selectmen most recently discussed this issue at their Dec. 13 meeting, where board members were presented with a proposed moratorium from the Planning Board on both recreational and medicinal marijuana operations. However, the selectmen did not approve the proposal, because at this time they do not want to regulate medical marijuana.

Clinton Town Manager Pamela Violette said the selectmen advised the Planning Board to come back with another proposal without language on medical marijuana, which the state legalized in 1999. She said the board may take it up again at their Jan. 18 meeting, and the selectmen will also hold a public hearing on the matter sometime in January. The provision for regulating medical marijuana would have declared a moratorium “on the location, operation or licensing of any medical marijuana cultivation facilities or dispensaries,” according to the proposed ordinance.

This move came shortly before the recount effort on Question 1, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana and allowed municipalities to regulate marijuana businesses, dropped their effort. The measure allows adults age 21 and older to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and allows them to grow their own plants and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers. It puts in a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana sales.

There are currently no medical marijuana dispensaries in Clinton.

The board’s proposal called for a 60-day moratorium, unless extended or repealed, that would have been effective immediately following selectmen approval. The moratorium would buy time until the town meeting in June, in which the town may ask resident to limit or ban such retail operations. The board had wanted to include medical marijuana businesses with recreational ones because of the burden of regulation it would place on town officials.

Meanwhile, the town of Madison is also looking at a moratorium — for 180 days — that would be effective as of Jan. 1 following approval by the Board of Selectmen. That proposal, which was scheduled for a public hearing Monday night, calls for regulating the number of retail marijuana stores and the location and operation of social clubs and retail stores, and it would not limit the rights of medical marijuana providers.

“Because of uncertainty around it and all the questions, and we don’t have any ordinance specifically, maybe a moratorium is the right thing to do as we wait and learn more,” Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis said.

A number of towns, both in central Maine and across the state, have set in place moratoriums. Portland enacted a six-month moratorium weeks after Election Day, when voters narrowly passed Question 1 by about 4,000 votes. The moratoriums delay the opening of any stores, social clubs for consumption, and cultivation or testing facilities. Westbrook enacted a 180-day moratorium prior to the election. About two dozen towns in total have enacted some form of moratorium.

Many towns in central Maine voted against Question 1 on Election Day.

Clinton, a town of less than 4,000 residents, voted 953 to 722 against Question 1. Augusta recently approved a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana, and the residents of Farmington voted to approve a similar moratorium. And the towns of Gardiner, Winslow and Norridgewock have all held discussions on moratoriums.

Some towns are taking more stringent actions. The Oakland Town Council recently approved a first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit recreational marijuana facilities from starting up the town.

Opponents of marijuana legalization, who had filed for a recount on Question which began on Dec. 5, officially dropped their bid over the weekend.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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