Falmouth council decides against marijuana moratorium

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FALMOUTH — Unlike many nearby communities, the town has decided not to impose a moratorium that would temporarily ban all uses associated with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maine.

Instead, the Town Council will take a wait-and-see approach while also holding at least one or more workshops on how various aspects related to the sale and cultivation of marijuana should be handled.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said at the Dec. 12 Town Council meeting that town leaders must first decide whether to prohibit or allow things like social clubs, retail sales and cultivation facilities in Falmouth.

In a memo prepared for the council, Code Enforcement Officer Justin Brown said without any changes to the town’s ordinances, cultivation facilities would likely be allowed in light manufacturing zones, while retail sales and social clubs would likely be allowed in general business zones.

While he was not asking councilors to take a position Monday, Poore said “We need to discuss how do we handle (recreational marijuana) in our ordinances? We do need to update our ordinances to be clear and precise.”

Poore said even while a recount is held on a statewide referendum that allows the use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and up, the town is “getting calls right now” from advocates for legalization interested in what Falmouth is going to do.

“These are hard policy discussions you’re going to have to have,” Poore told councilors. “There is no need to have a special meeting, but we need to talk fairly soon.”

Karen Farber, the council chairwoman, agreed, saying, “It would be helpful if we could decide on a direction. Assuming the (referendum) is upheld, there are things we need to do.”

For each category related to the recreational use of marijuana, Farber said, the council has to decide, “Is this acceptable? And if so, where?”

Councilors agreed, however, that they need more information before making any decisions about whether to allow or ban the various land uses associated with the sale and growth of marijuana.

Poore told the council to look at recreational marijuana like the sale of alcohol, where the state decides everything from licensing to oversight, and the town would only have to decide where or if such facilities would be allowed.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.