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Southern Maine Town Votes to Ban Recreational Marijuana Industry

Maine Marijuana Ban

Lebanon, in York County, is the latest town in Maine to prohibit everything recreational marijuana related. Its residents voted against all of the six questions regarding the issues. It’s the first town in southern Maine to ban marijuana.

York is also considering prohibiting recreational marijuana, according to Portland Press Herald. Voters will decide Saturday whether to prohibit or allow recreational marijuana businesses. Local officials are having trouble determining what impact recreational marijuana would have on the communities.

Ted Kelleher, of Drummond Woodsum, said, “It’s the most clear-cut, unambiguous action a town can take. IT avoids the need to have to face a lot of the more complicated, difficult questions about where you would permit these stores and how many you would allow.”

Maine’s regulations aren’t in place yet, but some towns aren’t waiting to decide whether or not recreational marijuana will be available within their limits. A couple of the main concerns are odor, zoning and signage.

Several temporary moratoriums remain in place throughout the state. Some are going a step further. The first dry town established was Oakland.

In June, residents in Norway and Skowhegan will decide whether to allow or prohibit recreational marijuana businesses. Saco city officials may consider a 1-year ban.

Eric Conrad, spokesperson for the Maine Municipal Association, said, “There’s a small but growing number of towns that have said they don’t want these businesses, regardless of the regulations.”

Personal use and personal cultivation for adults ages 21 and older remains legal in towns that have banned recreational marijuana businesses. Towns can’t ban personal use/cultivation.

Towns are permitted to have local regulations, develop special zoning regulations or vote to become a dry town. Some towns just don’t want the extra work associated with creating a new industry.

Jon Speers of the York Board of Selectmen said, “I’ve looked at this right from the start from a pure economic standpoint: How will this benefit York? Where do you think that tax money is going to be going? Straight to Augusta. We’re not going to see any retail sales tax on these operations.”

Dan Boyer of Maine Marijuana Policy Project says that support in Augusta may allow for local sales tax to be applied to recreational marijuana purchases. The taxes would be collected locally.

Boyer said, “We don’t do that in Maine, but this is one area where it could make sense. Conversely, maybe the towns that ban stores and social clubs should not get the revenue.”