Special Topsham Town Meeting to tackle marijuana moratorium, Route 196 signs

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TOPSHAM — A special Town Meeting on marijuana-related moratoriums and business directional signs will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6.

The meeting will be held at the Topsham Public Library, 25 Foreside Road, at 7 p.m. The meeting warrant can be viewed at topshammaine.com.

The town is expected to enact a six-month freeze on new medical marijuana providers. The moratorium, retroactive to Oct. 19 and prompted by interest town staff has heard about such businesses being opened, would allow the town some time to adopt regulations.

A freeze on retail marijuana sales – which followed the narrow passage last November of a statewide referendum to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product – was approved at Town Meeting in May, and would be extended at next month’s meeting.

High Brow, a retail operation that sells handmade glass pipes, opened recently at Topsham Fair Mall. The business has, as an accessory use, a medical marijuana caregiver operation for up to five clients; such clinics are allowed by state statute, Town Manager Rich Roedner said last month.

Town staff has also been approached by other medical marijuana providers about opening storefronts operated by caregivers, according to Roedner.

Topsham officials are concerned that once the state has established its retail marijuana legislation, these medical marijuana operations may be able to expand to retail operations, for which there are no town regulations.

The Dec. 6 meeting will also ask voters to approve a zoning ordinance amendment regarding official business directional signs. Topsham currently requires such signs to have green backgrounds with white letters, but state and federal rules mandate such signs to have blue backgrounds on certain roads.

In Topsham’s case, only Route 196 – a federal aid highway – is affected, Roedner said in an interview Monday.

Topsham would still require green signs following the ordinance change, except when state and federal regulations require something different, the manager said.

Tom Lister, the town’s code enforcement officer, said Monday that the “overwhelming majority” of OBD signs along Route 196 are green. Because of the town’s restriction on green signs, no new OBD signs can be installed on Route 196 without the ordinance change, through which new signs on that corridor would have to be blue.

Lister noted that the Maine Department of Transportation has informed him that a target date of 2020 exists for all OBD signs to be blue, but that “any existing sign can remain until replaced electively or out of structural need.”

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

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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.

  • guestnulll

    Over 70% of all Colorado communities have banned local marijuana businesses,clubs,etc
    Over 125 Massachusetts communities have banned local marijuana businesses,clubs,etc
    Over 2 dozen Maine communities have banned local marijuana businesses,clubs,etc

    The tax revenue from local POT businesses IS LESS THAN what local communities will be spending for all troubles the POT businesses will do in the community.

    The Liberal, Democrat Mayor of Boston Massachusetts is against allowing marijuana businesses in Boston because he does not want to turn Boston into a POT user’s playground

    So Topsham, Ya wanna allow POT businesses and clubs to open in Topsham?

    • Chew H Bird

      Actually, the real threat is alcohol sales and consumption that lead to driving under the influence, domestic violence, and addiction. Sales of pot may reduce problems directly linked to alcohol…

      • guestnulll

        So, why do you think over 70% of Colorado communities have banned marijuana.

        • Chew H Bird

          I do not live in Colorado and have no idea why. What I do know is that I neither partake of alcohol or any other substances but I did so decades ago when the drinking age was 18 and it is clear to me that if we compare the effects of pot and booze, the clearly more dangerous substance is alcohol.

          The illegal drug market is actively involved in our current epidemic of opium based abuse. Separating pot from this market is the first and most simple thing we can do to reduce the problem. Illegal drug dealers are happy to “up sell” from a pot request to hard drugs. The “gateway” is the dealer, not pot, so let’s try to eliminate the dealer.

        • Darren McLellan

          Fear. Folks like you in hysterics. People like you who use drama to replace data. That’s why.

  • guestnulll

    MARIJUANA NEVER KILLED ANYONE?
    ’77 people died on Colorado roadways in 2016 involving Marijuana using Drivers

    Source:”States with legalized marijuana need road‑ready officers”
    Thursday, November 30, 2017

    • Darren McLellan

      Fact check time:

      “But the limitations of the data make it impossible to know for sure how many of the documented incidents were directly caused by marijuana use. Unlike alcohol, for example, testing positive for marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean a person is under the influence of the drug at the time of the traffic accident.”

      http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/unpacking-pots-impact-in-colorado/

  • guestnulll

    U.S. Census Bureau:
    In 2016: 193,000 Coloradans moved out of Colorado
    AP dec 3, 2017