MOUNT DESERT — It’s too soon to enact a moratorium on marijuana retail stores in Mount Desert, the Board of Selectmen decided Monday.
They had considered asking voters at the May 2 town meeting to approve a 180-day moratorium, but they agreed to hold off.
In November, Maine voters narrowly approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The law went into effect Jan. 30, so it is now legal for people 21 and over to possess marijuana and use it in private settings.
However, the sale of marijuana is still illegal in Maine. The Legislature has enacted a moratorium on retail sales to give state officials time to set up licensing and regulatory procedures. That is expected to take until at least February 2018.
Mount Desert could enact a 180-day moratorium on retail stores, which the selectmen could then extend for another 180 days.
But the selectmen said Monday that with the state moratorium in place, there is no pressing need for a local moratorium on retail stores, and enacting a local moratorium at this time would only limit the town’s options later on.
“I personally think we should wait because I don’t want to get up to the end of our [moratorium of] 360 days and have nothing left in the bag,” Chairman John Macauley said, drawing laughter from his fellow board members.
“We could have a special town meeting and maybe vote a moratorium once we get closer [to the end of the state’s moratorium].”
That, he and other board members indicated, would give the town more time to decide what, if any, zoning changes or other restrictions should be enacted regarding the establishment of marijuana retail stores.
Maine municipalities can limit the location of such retail outlets or prohibit them entirely.