MOUNT DESERT — If you’re going to the May 8 town meeting, there’s something you should know: It doesn’t really matter how you vote on the proposed marijuana moratorium.
The outcome of the vote will have no practical effect on whether or when there are stores in Mount Desert selling recreational marijuana. That’s because even though the state is permitting retail sales, it will not be legal here unless voters at a future town meeting specifically authorize it.
Here’s some background.
In November 2016, Maine voters narrowly approved legalization of the use, cultivation and retail sale of recreational marijuana. On April 17 of this year, the Legislature passed and sent to Gov. Paul LePage a 75-page bill establishing a legal framework for regulating those activities. The governor vetoed that bill last Friday. But when the Legislature re-convened on Wednesday, both the House and Senate voted to override the governor’s veto.
Now that the bill has become law, the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial and Services will develop detailed rules and procedures regarding the cultivation and sale of marijuana, including the issuance of licenses and collection of taxes.
But once those state rules are in place, Mount Desert residents would have to vote to “opt in” before any retail establishments could open here. Under the law, neither the cultivation nor retail sale of recreational marijuana is allowed in any city or town in Maine that has not voted to authorize those activities.
If residents at a future town meeting vote to allow the retail sale of recreational marijuana, they also will have the opportunity to adopt regulatory ordinances, such as requiring a local permit, limiting the number of marijuana stores or restricting them to certain zoning districts.