RICHMOND — With little discussion, voters put in place a temporary ban on allowing marijuana retail shops and social clubs Wednesday at a special town meeting.

The effect of the moratorium is to prevent anyone from being able to open a marijuana-related enterprise in Richmond while the state develops regulations governing them and town residents decide whether such businesses can operate in Richmond and, if so, where.

“Now we’ll put this into effect and try to get some guidance from the state and from our local legislators,” O’Neil LaPlante, chairman of the Richmond Board of Selectmen, said after the meeting in the gymnasium at the Marcia Buker Elementary School.

In November, Maine voters narrowly approved Question 1, a citizen’s initiative. Along with allowing residents to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana starting Feb. 1, the question also opens the door to having retail shops and social clubs as well as cultivation and testing facilities. Under the law, the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has been given nine months to develop regulations and a system of licensing these businesses. But state lawmakers now are considering extending that time by placing a moratorium on the sale of pot until February 2018.

In Sagadahoc County, which favored legalizing marijuana, Richmond residents voted 1,016-902 to legalize marijuana, but town officials said they don’t know whether they favored only personal use at home or also wanted marijuana-related businesses in town.

Under the law, cities and towns have the ability to impose their own regulations on the businesses as well as the ability to ban them outright.


The special town meeting followed a December public hearing on the proposal.

Richmond residents Bonnie and John Burns voted with the minority on Election Day, and voted with the majority to enact the temporary ban Wednesday night.

“Why the hell would anyone want to put a mind-altering substance in their body?” John Burns said.

“We really have a problem with drugs in the state,” Bonnie Burns said. “We don’t need to have another.”

About 50 residents, who voted by a 2-to-1 margin to dismiss the suggestion that they vote by secret ballot, had only a few questions, mainly about how the temporary ban would work and how it could be extended.

In the end, only a few residents voted against the ban.


Voters considered and approved four other measures on the special town meeting warrant — ordinances governing special amusement permits, creating a reserve fund for Peacock Beach, creating a town vehicle reserve fund and creating a new cable TV reserve fund.

LaPlante said Richmond officials aren’t likely to take on the marijuana issue until they get direction from the state.

Once the state regulations are set up, he said, another town vote on whether marijuana-related businesses will be allowed in town is likely.

“The board doesn’t want to have any ambiguity,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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