WATERVILLE — The City Council unanimously adopted a 180-day moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, including stores and social clubs, at its meeting Tuesday evening.

City Manager Michael Roy said there was little discussion about the ordinance among the six councilors who were in attendance. He said a committee probably will be formed by the end of the ban to look into what kind of rules and regulations the city might want to create regarding marijuana stores and clubs.

However, state lawmakers who are charged with crafting rules for Maine’s legal marijuana industry voted Tuesday to ban social club licensing until 2023. According to a report from the Portland Press Herald, the Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee voted 5-1 to delay launching a social club market in the state, saying they did not want Maine to lead the way on social clubs and would prefer to learn from the experiences of other states. A final vote on that legislation is not expected before February.

The council on Jan. 3, 2017, took a first vote to adopt the moratorium ordinance on retail marijuana establishments, but on Sept. 19 it postponed taking a final vote.

Roy said in a recent memo to Mayor Nick Isgro and councilors that the state moratorium on retail sales of recreational marijuana expires in a few weeks and the Legislature is working on legislation to extend the moratorium to May.

“Unless we have a moratorium in effect, we will not have the means to regulate once the state moratorium expires,” the memo says. Roy contends a city moratorium will prevent the establishment of retail stores in Waterville while the city studies the issue further. Roy recommended that the city adopt moratorium language revised by the Maine Municipal Association.

In other matters, the council adopted an ethics ordinance that declares that the city’s operation requires proper conduct of city officials to promote public confidence that the integrity of government is maintained, that public office is not used for personal or financial gain or advantage and that the government structure is used properly in making decisions and developing policies.

The council swiftly adopted the ordinance without discussion, Roy said.

The council had voted to postpone consideration of the proposed ethics ordinance on May 16 and Sept. 19, 2017. A committee headed by Peter Lyford worked to prepare the ethics ordinance. Members looked at other municipalities’ ethics ordinances and put together a proposal for Waterville based on what is pertinent to the city.

In 2016, some residents complained that certain elected officials had spouses who were employed by the city and therefore should not vote on budgets pertaining to their spouses’ employment. A section about conflict of interest in the proposed ordinance says any city official or employee who believes the official or a member of the person’s immediate family has a financial or special interest in an agenda item before the body, other than the interest held by the public generally, shall publicly disclose the nature and possible extent of such interest, and the body will determine if there is an interest.

Councilors now are asked routinely at the beginning of council meetings if they have any conflict of interest to report on any agenda items. Those who report a conflict typically say they will not vote on a particular item.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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