Camden to offer straw poll on marijuana retail, social clubs

By Susan Mustapich | Jun 12, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich A straw poll June 13 in Camden will provide more information on how citizens view marijuana retail establishments and social clubs.

CAMDEN — Camden voters will see a non-binding ballot item at the polls Tuesday, June 13 regarding the commercial sale and use of marijuana.

The purpose of the straw poll is to obtain a better understanding of what citizens want and do not want to see in Camden regarding marijuana businesses, according to Planning Board Chairman Lowrie Sargent. He said the Select Board and Planning Board held a workshop on the issue in April.

At the polls, voters will receive a straw poll paper ballot with four questions. The ballots will be hand-counted, according to Town Clerk Katrina Oakes.

The questions are: Should the Town of Camden prohibit all retail sales of marijuana, should the Town of Camden prohibit all retail sales of marijuana in social smoking clubs (taverns, pubs, restaurants, bar rooms), should the Town of Camden adopt an ordinance that seeks to reasonably approve the location and conduct for retail sales of marijuana in commercial business, should the Town of Camden adopt an Ordinance which reasonably regulates the location and operation of marijuana in social smoking clubs (taverns, pubs, restaurants, bar rooms)?

At the May 2 Select Board meeting, Interim Town Manager Roberta Smith explained that the poll will provide "a sense of what the town wants" to a committee working on local regulations.

On Feb. 21, Camden voters approved an 180-day moratorium on marijuana shops and social clubs at a lightly attended special town meeting. The moratorium passed 17 to 14.

Town Attorney Bill Kelley had advised the Select Board to consider the moratorium in order to protect Camden from businesses taking actions that could later be viewed as establishing vested rights. Kelley said his advice to the town followed guidelines set out by the Maine Municipal Association.

Maine voters approved a referendum Nov. 8, 2016, to allow recreational use of marijuana. In January, the state legislature approved a moratorium on implementing parts of the law regarding retail sales and taxation until at least February 2018 and implemented a moratorium on retail sales to allow time to set up licensing and regulations.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Robert Waterman | May 16, 2017 11:34

I was raised in Camden( graduated in the class of 1964) and since 1972, I have lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado... home to many marijuana shops. I would encourage Camden voters to do your homework and get educated... and then get out and vote against allowing marijuana sales, and clubs in Camden.

Posted by: Alison S McKellar | May 16, 2017 11:31

I think the intentions of the Planning Board and Select Board are good here but it often feels like the Select Board doesn't trust the voters to make decisions and doesn't believe that we understood what we were voting for. In November there was record voter turnout and over 55% of us (roughly 1800 people) came out in favor of the referendum. Instead of understanding this for the strong show of support that it was and getting to work implementing the will of the people in a productive and sensible way, the Select Board has decided to fixate on the possibility that maybe, just maybe, those people really meant that they only want this to happen in other towns. So instead of moving forward and forming the committee they said they'd form months ago, they are going to put out another question to a much smaller group of voters. We will never get the turnout in June that we got last November.

Posted by: Ron Hawkes | May 15, 2017 20:32

On Nov. 6, 2016, the people of this State told you what they wanted. In January the people were told by the legislature they did not care what we the people wanted, now the Camden Select Board follows suite and wants to find out what the people of Camden want when they have already been told. So again what we the people want does not matter if they can find a way to change it. It is a damn joke the way this country is run!!

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