WINSLOW — The Town Council on Monday evening voted unanimously, 7-0, to enact a 90-day moratorium on granting permits for medical marijuana retail stores, testing and manufacturing facilities until the town can come up with municipal zoning regulations for the industry.

The moratorium was a reaction to legislation passed by the Maine Legislature in June that allows caregivers to expand their business operations in exchange for greater government regulation. Additionally, the bill includes a requirement for municipalities to opt-in to the legislation, mirroring a provision in the adult-use law.

Town Manager Mike Heavener said the problem with the state’s overhaul of the medical marijuana law is that lawmakers did not put a restriction on where a marijuana business could open, making it possible for a storefront to open near a school building.

Heavener proposed the moratorium so that the town could form a committee to explore regulations and zoning ordinances for new cannabis businesses before the state’s law goes into effect.

In the meantime, no new medical marijuana facilities can open in Winslow. One dispensary is currently operating on Augusta Road, Heavener said, but the business will not be affected by the moratorium as current businesses will be grandfathered in.

Heavener said committee members would likely include Police Chief Shawn O’Leary, the incoming fire chief, a member from the planning board, a member from the public and councilors.

Councilor Jeff West said he was interested in joining the committee because an acquaintance of his, who operates a medical marijuana business, indicated a willingness to sit down with the committee to discuss the pros and cons of certain rules.

If the council is unable to come up with regulations that they can agree upon by the time the state’s legislation goes into effect, Heavener said the group would still have time to adopt an ordinance. The town would still need to opt-in to the law before any cannabis facilities could open in Winslow.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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