PITTSTON — In 10 days, Pittston voters will decide whether they want to put in place a temporary ban on the commercial marijuana enterprises that will now be allowed in Maine following a statewide referendum vote in November.

A special town meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Pittston Town Office.

At a public hearing last week, Pittston residents grappled with what a proposed moratorium would do for the town and whether trying to impose regulations on pot-related businesses would bring legal trouble. The moratorium, which would last 180 days, would give town officials time to decide whether they want to allow marijuana retail shops or social clubs or other commercial enterprise, and if so, under what town regulation.

George Shaw has already made up his mind. He hasn’t lived in Pittston long, he said, but he likes it the way it is now and doesn’t want to see any changes.

Shaw was among about two dozen people, including officials from neighboring Randolph, who attended the meeting.

Cheryl Peaslee, who serves on the town’s Ordinance Review Committee, said Pittston’s business ordinances need review and work.

“I own a business. I’m not opposed to business, but we need to have some structure,” Peaslee said.

Pittston is among the vast majority of municipalities in Kennebec County to vote against the ballot measure: 778 voters were for it and 917 voters were against it.

As written, Question 1 allows adults to legally possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana. That and the ability to grow six plants in their homes for personal use would remain unaffected by the moratorium.

While Question 1 also makes provisions for retail shops and social clubs, where people could gather to smoke or otherwise consume marijuana, it also allows cities and towns to impose regulations on those operations or to ban them outright.

Even as cities and towns are deciding whether to allow pot-related businesses, state elected officials are also deciding whether more time is needed for rule-making. Under the citizen initiative, businesses must secure a state license, and the state has nine months to develop rules governing them. Last week, state lawmakers introduced a bill to give officials three more months to develop a regulatory structure.

Neither that bill nor municipal moratoriums will delay the legalization of pot for personal use, and nothing in the citizens’ initiative will affect medical marijuana.

Gardiner has enacted a moratorium and is planning to appoint a task force to examine whether the businesses allowed under the law ought to be allowed in the city.

Across the Kennebec River, Richmond is holding its own special town meeting Wednesday for voters to decide whether they want to impose a temporary ban.

James Lotheridge, chairman of the Pittston Planning Board, said he’d like to see what other towns do first, and whether their actions incite any legal action.

“We could end up with a legal challenge and we don’t need it,” he said.

Roger Linton, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said participation is very important, and he would like to ensure the town is protected.

“What people should do is get the best they can for their families and kids in school and society,” he said.

Special town meetings draw voters according to their interest in the question. Town Clerk Deborah Berry said attendance varies at special town meetings from as few as five to maybe 30.

To get an indication of interest, a poll is likely to be posted on the town’s website, pittstonmaine.org, Peter Coughlan, webmaster for the town’s website, said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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