Vote on moratorium on marijuana retail shops, social clubs set for Jan 24
CAMDEN — The Select Board will hold a special town meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24 to vote on an 180-day moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.
Selectmen voted 3 to 2 on Jan. 10 to set up the special town meeting, with Don White, Marc Ratner and chairman John French voting in favor, and selectmen Leonard Lookner and James Heard voting in opposition. The special town meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room.
Lookner questioned the hurry for setting up a moratorium, when rulemaking on marijuana retail establishments would take about a year.
French explained that the town attorney is advising the moratorium to prevent cases of businesses from coming in as retail, not saying they will be selling marijuana, in order to demonstrate a substantive investment in a property, and obtain all the needed approvals.
Maine voters approved a referendum Nov. 8, 2016, to allow recreational use of marijuana. Gov. Paul LePage has signed a proclamation verifying the results of the vote, and on Jan. 30 possessing and growing marijuana will be legal.
The warrant article to enact a moratorium cites numerous issues to be considered, including the need to wait for State rule making and understand the rules once adopted, the public health and safety of marijuana, and within Camden's various zones, "how and where retail marijuana can be safely and best compatibly permitted."
In addition, the draft article cites the possibility that increased use of marijuana, "through its cultivation, sale and use in social clubs" in Camden, could "create the potential additional burden on the Town of Camden's public facilities, especially the town's public health and public safety resources."
The lack of available measures for public safety personnel to determine "a person's ability to safely operate" vehicles after recreational consumption at social clubs is another concern cited.
Consideration of the impact of marijuana establishments near schools, churches, and residential neighborhoods is included as an area of need to be considered during a moratorium.
Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.