Camden mulls over marijuana policy

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 10, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The hand-drawn sign that was taped on the plate glass window of an empty retail space on Mechanic Street, left, was changed after a marijuana moratorium was approved in February, right.

CAMDEN — The town of Camden will assign a Recreational Marijuana Policy Working Group to develop recommendations for marijuana retail stores and social clubs.

Prior to final state government rulemaking, this working group can provide the Select Board with recommendations on marijuana social clubs and retail stores and, potentially, appropriate zones, according to the Select Board's Oct. 10 agenda.

Up for appointment to the group are: Grayson Lookner, Liz Smith, Etienne Perret, Marc Kwiatkowski, Edwin Horvath and Eleanor Masin-Peter, who have submitted Town Committee Interest Forms.

A public hearing will also be held Oct. 10 regarding extending Camden's existing moratorim on marijuana retail stores and social clubs for another 180 days. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and is held in the Washington Street Conference Room.

In Feb. 2017, Camden voters approved a 180-day moratorium on marijuana retail shops and social clubs at a special town meeting.

At that meeting, more than one speaker questioned the need for a moratorium, including Perret.

Town attorney Bill Kelly took the lead in advising the Select Board to adopt the moratorium, and preparing the language. He explained that his advice conforms with town guidelines set out by the Maine Municipal Association.

Camden's marijuana moratorium cites the need to wait for state rulemaking and understand the rules once adopted, protection of public health and questions about the safety of marijuana, and within Camden's various zones, "how and where retail marijuana can be safely and best compatibly permitted."

In addition, the moratorium 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."

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 since Jan. 30 possessing and growing marijuana has been legal.

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