MOUNT DESERT — The Legislature has not yet adopted a “regulatory framework” for the cultivation and retail sale of recreational marijuana in Maine, but town officials say that is no reason to delay working on local regulations.
The Board of Selectmen last week voted to ask the town’s Land Use Zoning Ordinance (LUZO) Advisory Group to begin the discussion.
In January, the selectmen scheduled and then cancelled a special town meeting for a vote on a 180-day moratorium on marijuana sales. Selectman Martha Dudman noted at last week’s board meeting that, during a public hearing on the proposed moratorium vote, several citizens said the town should go ahead and develop local regulations for citizens to vote on once the Legislature acts.
“I’d like to see the town begin the process of coming up with an ordinance that makes sense for our town,” she said. “The town may choose to vote against it and completely ban any kind of cultivation or sale of marijuana. But I think we should put something together that could be palatable to the people of the town.
“I think this is going to take a lot of conversation because it is a serious issue, and I think we ought to start now.”
Dudman said the impression she got at a previous meeting from Rep. Brian Hubbell, who represents Mount Desert, was that the state’s regulations regarding recreational marijuana sales are likely to be rather broad.
Hubbell said at last week’s meeting that that is still his expectation.
“But I don’t think it would be responsible for me even to speculate about what ultimately will pass,” he said.
Even so, Dudman said, “we can certainly get started [on an ordinance] and then tailor it to whatever the state hands us.”
Town Manager Durlin Lunt suggested that the first step should be to have the town’s 11-member LUZO Advisory Group begin the process of crafting an ordinance. It is expected that such an ordinance would specify the zoning districts in which marijuana cultivation or retail sales operations would or would not be permitted.
Board of Selectmen Chairman John Macauley said South Portland has begun working on preliminary marijuana sales ordinances, “and I think it would be worth looking at what they’ve done.”
Dudman asked Police Chief Jim Willis if he had thoughts on regulating marijuana sales locally.
“We’ve got to wait and see what the [state] rules are going to be,” he said. “What I think about is enforcement, of course, and impaired driving. And we all have a lot to learn there.”