Marijuana growing ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Pot ordinance goes to vote

TREMONT — After nearly an hour of taking public comments Monday on a proposed ordinance that would ban the commercial sale of marijuana in town, selectmen voted 3-2 to let voters decide at the polls Nov. 7 whether to enact the ordinance.

Selectmen Jamie Thurlow and Howard Goodwin cast the opposing votes. Thurlow said he preferred to wait until the state comes up with its regulations concerning commercial marijuana before the town takes any action.

“I’m just afraid that we might be jumping the gun,” he said.

As proposed, the ordinance would ban retail marijuana stores, cultivation facilities, facilities that manufacture marijuana products, testing facilities and social clubs in Tremont. It also would prohibit any person or organization from developing or operating “a business that engages in retail or wholesale sales of a retail marijuana product” as defined by state law. The ordinance would not apply to medical marijuana.

Both proponents and opponents of the proposed ban spoke out at the public hearing on the issue that preceded the vote Monday. At times, the discussion was less than civil.

One of the first comments was from Gus DenDanto, who said he believed Maine voters made their decision to legalize marijuana when they acted on a referendum question at the polls last November. Voters in Tremont were in favor of the statewide question by a 100-vote margin, he said.

“The proposed ordinance would subvert what residents already decided,” DenDanto opined.

Others cited the growing and sale of marijuana already occurring in the town and the missed opportunity from not allowing and regulating commercial sales.

“Think of the money that’s been made here,” one man said. “Uncle Sam didn’t get none of that, the town didn’t get none of that.”

Wanda Ellis said she was opposed to allowing commercial sales because of the message it would send children.

“This is not what I want my grandchildren to see on their way to school,” Ellis said.

DenDanto said the real danger to young people comes from not regulating sales.

“The folks who are growing and selling every day in this town – a portion of them – don’t care who they’re selling to,” he said.

Tim Gott reminded selectmen that marijuana, while legal in Maine and other states, is still illegal under federal law. He asked the board to take the discrepancy into consideration.

The chairman of the town’s Planning Board, Mike Ryan, cautioned selectmen, saying “there’s an awful lot here that’s unknown.”

“We don’t have anything in the land use ordinance that deals with this,” Ryan said.

A couple of people suggested a moratorium on marijuana sales would be better than rushing to vote on the proposed ordinance. A moratorium would allow the town to see how the state plans to regulate commercial sales, they reasoned.

“We’ll give it a year and give it a chance,” one man said. This would be a “middle ground” for both sides.

In making the motion to put to proposed ordinance on the November ballot, Selectman Chris Eaton included a phrase that selectmen would make no recommendation on which way to vote.

Another public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m.




Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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