Freeport bans marijuana retailers, social clubs

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FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday banned retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

The ordinance prohibits five uses of retail marijuana: stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities and social clubs. The banned uses do not include the medical or private use of marijuana or medical marijuana production facilities.

The vote was 4-1, with Vice Chairwoman Melanie Sachs absent. Councilor Bill Rixon abstained.

The council also unanimously awarded a contract to Atlantic Recycling Equipment for a solid waste and recycling single-sort compactor.

Joyce Veilleux spoke on behalf of about 12 other residents attending Tuesday’s meeting in support of the prohibition on retail marijuana sales and social clubs.

“We like your ordinance. We want your ordinance,” Veilleux said. “Please pass your ordinance tonight and get on with other business.”

Councilor John Egan acknowledged the attendance of those supporting the ordinance.

“If you want to have an impact, you (have) to show up,” Egan said.

Former Councilor Andy Wellen was in the minority, pointing out that Maine voters last November legalized recreational marijuana sales, and Freeport voters supported legalization, too.

“(Who) I want to be talking to are the 57 percent of people in the town who voted for (the legalization of) marijuana,” Wellen said. “You’d have to have a really good reason not to support these uses when 57 percent of people voted for it.”

Wellen suggested the 57 percent weren’t represented at Tuesday’s meeting because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“How many people want to get up here and say that they support the legalization of pot,” Wellen said. “But (57 percent) of people said it in the privacy of their own voting booth.”

Chairwoman Sarah Tracy and Rixon were in favor of sending the ordinance to Freeport residents for a vote.

Tracy said she was “conflicted” and would be open to passing the ordinance conditionally, as long as it was subject to a referendum in November. She noted that three of the five uses banned by the ordinance – cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities – are commercial endeavors not “typically open to the public.”

Councilor Scott Gleeson countered Tracy, saying he is confident the council can make a decision without going back to residents for an affirmative vote.

“That’s what representative government is,” Gleeson said. “We’ve been talking about this for a really long time.”

After several discussions and a Planning Board recommendation last year, the council enacted a 180-day emergency moratorium on retail marijuana sales or social clubs in January 2016. The moratorium was extended in June.

In other business, with a bid of nearly $30,000, Atlantic Recycling Equipment was awarded a contract for a single-sort compactor over Maguire Equipment.

The compactor will replace the “silver bullet” in the recycling center sometime between late August and early September.

According to Adam Bliss, the solid waste facility director, the compactor is expected to result in an increase in recycling because it will make the process more convenient.

In a memorandum to Town Manager Peter Joseph, Bliss vouched for Atlantic Recycling Equipment, saying that the “low bidder is reputable and installed the solid waste compactor during 2015 to the town’s satisfaction.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

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  • Chris Taylor

    Egan says, “If you want to have an impact, you (have) to show up.” Freeport residents did show up and voted in favor of legalization. They shouldn’t have to show up again at a low profile meeting to tell you that they really meant it. What the council did was pander to 12 outspoken NIMBYs, not represent their constituents.