READFIELD — Selectmen are trying to decide whether the town should allow retail sales of adult-use, recreational marijuana — and if so, how will it be regulated?

“We have to begin thinking about ways to come up with language that makes regulating this make sense,” Select Board member Dennis Price said Monday at the board’s annual goal-setting retreat.

The state released its rules for the recreational marijuana market in June. Municipalities can choose to opt in to allowing retail sales. Voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016.

In the coming year, selectmen want to decide how the town would regulate adult-use retail cannabis or whether it should develop a moratorium.

“I hope the line — especially in Readfield — between who is medicinal and who is adult-use does not get blurry,” Price said. 

In June, the Planning Board received an application for a medical cannabis cultivation facility. 

“The state of Maine does regulate all of the recreational and 80% of the medical market,” Town Manager Eric Dyer said, “but the one thing (the state) did not address was cultivation specifically for medicinal purposes. 

“There was a little window there, and that’s (where) we had someone open the window and stick their head in,” he added.

Municipalities cannot regulate the cultivation of medical cannabis, so the town is treating it as an agricultural issue. It prompted the board to consider whether the town should update its land use ordinances. 

“If one (cannabis-growing) business comes in, it sends a message that (Readfield) is a good place to do this,” said board member Kathryn Mills Woodsum. “I would like us to be forward thinking in terms of size.”

Right now, according to Dyer, the applicant is seeking to construct two greenhouses on a 6-acre parcel of land. 

The greenhouses would be 30 by 72 feet and 22 by 48 feet, according to Mastadon Farms LLC’s permit in the Planning Board’s June 26 agenda packet.

“With the current land use ordinance,” Dyer said, “it truly is agriculture, and the Planning Board does not have jurisdiction.”

“We have to create baseline information and guidelines for not only home gardens and home grow facilities, but intensive agriculture,” Price said. “If (a cultivation facility) were cultivating tomatoes, could they sell their salsa, too?” 

Public hearings and input on retail cannabis will be a part of this development. Because the retreat was a workshop, no motions could be made or approved on any topics. 

Selectmen also are planning to develop a food sovereignty ordinance in order to encourage local, small-scale agriculture. 

Developing an ordinance would give freedom, flexibility and opportunity to residents, Dyer said, to sell food they make or farm while being exempt from state commercial kitchen requirements, such as selling eggs or rhubarb pies at a farm stand. 

Meat and alcohol would be excluded from the ordinance. 

The town also wants to update its property tax assistance ordinance. 

“I would like to see us begin to think about an elderly tax freeze,” new Select Board member Ralph Eno Jr. said. “A freeze would mean a final tool in the bag to provide maximum benefit.”

Eno said he was disappointed that people aren’t applying for property tax assistance. 

Another goal that was set was to address pedestrian safety, such as developing concrete or gravel sidewalks or expanding roadsides toward drainage. One road it will consider for a sidewalk is Church Road, which connects to Main Street and walking trails.  

Other goals include:

• Entering into a power purchase agreement for a solar field at the transfer station, which voters authorized during Town Meeting in June;

• Seeing through improvements to the library and fire station, which voters also approved at the Town Meeting;

• Looking into bringing in broadband internet service and updating the town’s cable agreement; and

• Unifying policies and bylaws into single set of bylaws.

Other ordinances that will be updated deal with mass gatherings, conflict of interest, firearms and the Fire Department. 

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