Cumberland to weigh ban on retail marijuana sales

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CUMBERLAND — The town may consider banning the retail sale of marijuana.

The Town Council – which held a public hearing on the matter April 10 that drew no comment – plans to hold a second hearing at the start of its Monday, April 24, meeting.

The council that night or on May 8 could send the matter to the Planning Board for a recommendation, and then vote on the new rules.

“We’re trying to encourage people to attend and offer some input,” Town Manager Bill Shane said in an interview April 12. “… If folks have ideas, or different ideas than the Ordinance Committee and the Town Council have at this point, we’d love to hear them.”

The Town Council will likely on May 8 extend Cumberland’s moratorium on retail marijuana sales for another six months, Shane said. The moratorium followed the narrow passage last November of a statewide referendum to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product.

The question failed by 2 percent in Cumberland, 2,788 to 2,679.

The town cannot prohibit the use of marijuana; only the sale, as permitted by the state. Medical marijuana dispensaries are already allowed in Cumberland’s Office Commercial North zone on U.S. Route 1, although there are none there.

“It’s easy to do,” Shane said of banning marijuana sales, adding that allowing them could present difficulties. “We’re a small town, and the enforcement of this, and the oversight of it would be a tax on resources.”

The Falmouth Town Council has held two workshops on retail marijuana, and on April 12 introduced a sixth-month moratorium, with a public hearing set to review the matter May 8.

“The moratorium is to give them more time to make a decision for long-term regulations,” Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore said April 13.

Meanwhile, the Yarmouth Town Council considered a moratorium “premature until the Legislature provided mechanisms for retail establishments to go forward,” according to Town Manager Nat Tupper.

“Since moratoriums are good for only 180 days, they thought Yarmouth should wait to consider enacting a moratorium (if ever) until it is closer to the starting line,” Tupper said in an email April 13.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.