West Gardiner voters are headed to a special town meeting Thursday to vote on imposing a temporary ban on commercial marijuana enterprises.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the fire hall at 318 Spears Corner Road, which is next to the Town Hall.

In taking the measure to its voters, West Gardiner is joining towns across the region that are responding to the legalization of recreational marijuana by popular vote in November.

Gary Couture, chairman of the West Gardiner Board of Selectmen, said about 20 people attended the Jan. 19 public hearing on the proposed moratorium. Among the things they wanted to know was the difference between medical and recreational marijuana.

“That was part of the explanation,” Couture said. Medical marijuana is regulated by the state, and it’s unaffected by Question 1, which appeared on Maine’s statewide ballot on Election Day.

Question 1, which passed narrowly, allows Maine residents to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana starting Monday.

The citizen’s initiative also paves the way for pot-related commercial enterprises, including retail shops and social clubs. Those establishments would require licenses from the state, once state officials have put in place a regulatory structure. That could take anywhere from nine months to a year. Under state law, cities and towns have the ability to impose stricter regulations on such businesses or ban them outright. Under the ballot initiative, the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has nine months to draft rules, but state lawmakers are now weighing whether to extend that time.

In the last few weeks, other communities across the region have taken steps to address recreational marijuana. In early January, Gardiner officials put a temporary ban in place and has created a task force that will be charged with making a recommendation to city officials about whether pot-related businesses ought to be allowed, and if so, where they would be allowed. Richmond officials voted a week ago for a temporary ban. Pittston will ask its residents to decide whether to have a temporary ban and whether to ban the businesses outright at a special town meeting on Feb. 8.

In the statewide vote, which was contested briefly, only two towns in Kennebec County voted in favor of legal recreational marijuana — Hallowell and Waterville.

Couture said based on how West Gardiner residents voted in November — 926 for and 1,269 against — he’s not getting a strong sense that residents want to allow marijuana-related businesses in town.

When West Gardiner holds its annual Town Meeting on March 18, voters are likely to see a proposed ordinance banning pot-related businesses.

Couture said more residents will attend the annual meeting than will attend a special town meeting.

Keven Gay, meat manager at Fuller’s Market, where a copy of the proposed ban has been posted, said he’s not heard town residents talking about the temporary ban.

“If it’s good for business and it’s been voted on, they should allow it,” Gay said. He’s worked at Fullers on and off for 10 years, but he lives in Randolph, where discussions on a proposed temporary ban have started.

In addition to Fuller’s Market on Hallowell-Litchfield Road, the proposed ordinance is also available at the Town Office, and it’s posted at the Pond Road Fire Station and Four Corners Store on High Street.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ