To the Editor:
“The people have spoken.” This is a phrase often heard at the end of political campaigns. And in Bar Harbor, in 2016, sixty percent of the town’s voters supported the state referendum legalizing recreational marijuana. Sixty percent said yes. Yet the Town Council approved a moratorium on recreational cannabis businesses in town in 2018, which has since expired. State law has also changed, requiring towns to opt in to allow marijuana businesses. But the Town Council has no apparent plan to discuss it again.
Out of sight, out of mind? Perhaps.
However, at the same time people are lamenting about the lack of year-round jobs, year-round housing, and year-round families with kids to fill the schools. Cannabis businesses could be at least part of the answer. Although at least one councilor consistently refers to recreational cannabis businesses as “retail” there are three other categories of businesses allowed under the law — cultivation, manufacturing, and testing. These businesses can be conducted in buildings without descriptive signage — cultivation must be done indoors — and provide good paying, year-round jobs. These employees could afford to buy houses in Bar Harbor and be contributing members of the community. And to the people who worry that recreational cannabis could hurt Bar Harbor’s “brand,” these businesses can be conducted quietly and discretely away from the eyes of the tourists. These businesses would pay taxes, as would any employees who live in the town. Especially with the majority approval given by the voters, I fail to understand why the Planning Board has not been given the go-ahead to develop zoning ordinances and rules for these businesses.
Remember, recreational cannabis businesses do not necessarily mean pot shops on the corner. There are four categories of businesses allowed under the law, only one involving retail sales. I think the time has come for the Town Council to begin work on developing rules for marijuana businesses. It’s legal. It can add to the property tax base. It can help add to the year-round population. And most importantly, it was approved by 60 percent of the voters.
Seminole. Fla. and Bar Harbor