CLINTON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night unanimously voted to enact an emergency moratorium on retail marijuana establishments.

The board held a public hearing on the moratorium in the selectmen’s room of the Town Office, where roughly 20 residents came out for the item. The emergency moratorium on retail marijuana establishments will stand for 60 days unless extended or repealed by selectmen, and it allows the Planning Board time to prepare changes to the land use ordinance. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the measure at Town Meeting in June. The selectmen could have waited until their Jan. 24 meeting to enact the moratorium, but Vice Chairman Ronnie Irving made the motion to enact the emergency moratorium Tuesday night. The final vote was 5-0, with no discussion by the selectmen.

During the brief public remarks, one resident wanted to make sure the selectmen actually would enact something and not just “keep kicking the can down the road.”

Board Chairman Jeffrey Towne said even if they enacted the moratorium, the measure still would have to go to the Town Meeting in June, where residents would vote in a secret ballot on an ordinance developed by the Planning Board.

The Planning Board originally had proposed a moratorium on both recreational and medicinal marijuana operations. However, the selectmen did not approve the proposal, because they didn’t want to regulate medical marijuana. The current version of the emergency moratorium is only for retail marijuana stores, establishments and social clubs.

Clinton is not the only municipality in Maine or the region to explore moratoriums. Augusta recently approved a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana, and the residents of Farmington voted to approve a similar moratorium. Gardiner and Winslow have held discussions on moratoriums. Additionally, Oakland recently voted to ban retail marijuana sites. Madison was scheduled to hold a vote on whether to impose a 180-day moratorium, and the Skowhegan Planning Board is working on drafting an ordinance to ban marijuana businesses in town.

Portland enacted a six-month moratorium weeks after Election Day. Westbrook enacted a 180-day moratorium prior to the election. In total, about two dozen communities have enacted some form of moratorium.

Voters approved the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in Maine on Nov. 8 by a slim margin — roughly 4,000 votes. The measure allows adults age 21 and older to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana, allows them to grow their own plants and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers and puts a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana sales. A recount of Question 1 votes began in early December but was dropped a few weeks later.

Norridgewock also is moving forward with its own plan, but as Oakland recently did, it may go beyond just a moratorium. Norridgewock Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the town’s Planning Board unanimously voted to move forward with an ordinance banning retail marijuana establishments. LaBelle said the proposed ordinance will go before the Board of Selectmen at their Jan. 18 meeting and would apply only to retail establishments. It would not apply to medicinal marijuana and “doesn’t infringe on upon personal private use.”

LaBelle said the Planning Board’s recommendation called for a referendum on the issue rather than a public vote at Town Meeting, which is scheduled for March 6.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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