Communities across Maine are waiting for the Legislature to wrap up its package of rules, regulations and laws governing the commercial sale and distribution of marijuana, following last fall’s vote legalizing possession and use.
In many towns, officials have adopted a wait-and-see attitude as lawmakers toil away in Augusta. Some smaller towns have imposed moratoriums, while others have chosen to postpone action in case a moratorium might need to be deployed later in the process.
Though it makes perfect sense to await state action on the law’s finer points, officials in smaller towns, such as those on Mount Desert Island, should be engaged in conversations about the broader issues involved. For example, towns now can decide whether or not to allow marijuana social clubs, should the state permit such activity.
Another particular concern: a community’s approach to the scale of local commercial marijuana operations. Will small boutique “mom and pop” sales or grow operations be allowed? Or should large-scale retail and industrial farming be permitted? Perhaps a few towns in Maine wouldn’t mind earning the moniker “marijuana capital of Maine,” but we’ll wager those will be few and far between.
Whether or not to allow the sale of edible marijuana also should be thoroughly discussed, particularly with the potential for appeal to underage users.
Where pot possession is now legal, will a town decide to ban all sales and commercial growing outright, thereby forcing residents to drive to another community to make a purchase? That would be similar to Maine’s “dry” communities that have continued to ban liquor sales long after Prohibition has ended.
Should retail sales of marijuana and commercial grow operations be zoned? Discussion now could help reach consensus in advance of state action.
In towns that enjoy a robust tourist trade, will marijuana sales joints proliferate to the point they become as prevalent as T-shirt shops? There’s no reason to delay that discussion.
Setting up a rough framework of which types of activities local communities want to allow, and where to allow them, will facilitate more thoughtful implementation of local rules when the final state regulations are adopted.