Marijuana sales session offered

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Bar Harbor attorney Lynne Williams has offered to conduct a workshop for area towns on what their regulatory options are likely to be regarding the retail sale of recreational marijuana starting early next year.

Maine voters narrowly approved the legalization of marijuana possession and sale last November. Williams was general counsel for Legalize Maine, the lead organization behind the legalization effort. And she is closely monitoring the work of a special legislative committee that is drafting what she called the “regulatory structure for the law.”

She told representatives of the Acadia-area League of Towns at their meeting here May 23 that the committee is likely to have the proposed statutes ready by mid-summer. Then it will be up to one or probably several state agencies to develop the specific rules and regulations governing marijuana cultivation and retail sale.

The goal is for the Legislature to pass the committee’s proposed statutes when it reconvenes in January.

“I believe it’s this statutory framework that’s going to tell [municipal officials] what you can and can’t do” in terms of regulating marijuana sales, Williams said.

Applications for retail sales licenses are expected to be available starting in February.

“The [legislative] committee is pretty committed to not extending that timeframe, because the longer it goes on, the longer the black market exists,” Williams said. “And the overriding goal is to eliminate the black market.”

She told the municipal officials that towns will have quite a bit of latitude in regard to regulating the retail sale of marijuana. But she said that if towns want to impose restrictions on marijuana sales, such as amending their land use ordinances to limit where retail outlets can be located, they probably should do so by the end of the year. She said towns also could enact a moratorium or an outright ban on retail sales.

“I am offering to do a workshop to update towns on the status of the regulations [and] the possible land use issues and regulatory issues that are available to the towns,” Williams said.

She said she also could talk about what she sees as the likely “intersection between the state and the towns on this law.”

Several of the League of Towns representatives expressed interest in such a workshop and said the best time probably would be early to mid-fall.

Williams said some municipalities have enacted an outright ban on retail marijuana sales or are planning to do so.

“But I think they might change their tune in four or five years because it’s very likely … that there will be a 2 percent local option sales tax on [marijuana] products,” she said. “The feeling is that if we are going to host these businesses in our towns, we should get some money out of it.”



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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