Yarmouth council to consider retail marijuana ban

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council will vote Dec. 21 on whether to permanently ban retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

At a workshop on Dec. 7, councilors also discussed a “Solarize Yarmouth” program and slowed momentum on potential updates to the town’s solid waste management system.

In August, the town approved a six-month moratorium on all retail marijuana establishments, which is set to expire in February. The proposed ordinance would make that moratorium permanent.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the ban wouldn’t affect medical marijuana distribution or possession in small, legal doses.

Police Chief Michael Morrill said it was important the council implement a ban, calling it a legal and moral issue.

“By not imposing a ban, I believe our community is giving passive approval that it is OK to sell and use marijuana,” he said, adding that the topic could be revisited and reversed at any time in the future.

Councilor April Humphrey said she was torn because Mainers voted to legalize marijuana sales statewide in a referendum vote in November 2016.

Solarize Yarmouth

Humphrey introduced the idea of a “solarize project” at an Operations Committee meeting in August, which reflects what has been done in nearby towns such as Freeport and Bath.

In such a program, the town would provide a joint purchasing option for solar panels from a selected provider for residents and businesses, which would help reduce the cost of installation.

Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme said it is not a new concept; he set up and administered a multi-town solarize project for the Mid-Coast when he worked for the city of Bath.

LaFlamme said the town would function as an organizing agency and intermediary between the public and selected solar installers but would have little to no liability and no financial obligations.

According to LaFlamme, the town would not have an active role in the program once a Request for Qualifications such as price, capacity, and timetable was crafted and installation was launched.

He added that timing is important because the state is considering regulatory changes to the way net metering is credited to the homeowner, which currently stands at 100 percent of the value of their energy. LaFlamme said this total is likely to decline.

“It’s a sense of urgency to get in while the getting is good,” he said, noting that residents who invest in solar panels now will be locked into their net metering rate.

Councilor Richard Plourde suggested the program be “taken off the Council’s plate” and turned into a volunteer effort.

The Council will vote on whether to endorse the program on Dec. 21 and plans to discuss during an Operations Committee meeting how to gauge the public’s interest in a program.

Solid Waste Management

Councilors will also further discuss needed upgrades and repairs to the town’s 30-year-old transfer station and recycling center during upcoming Operations Committee meetings.

At a council meeting Nov. 2, Public Works Director Erik Street posed two potential options crafted by the town’s recycling committee.

Both options include a “pay-as-you-throw” component, in which residents would purchase bags for trash disposal and recycling would be free: the more recycling, the smaller the expense for trash bags.

Option one would implement “pay as you throw” with upgrades to the transfer station – such as the addition of a second compactor for recycling and eliminating the silver bullets.

The second option would implement “pay as you throw” and automated curbside collection.

However, on Thursday, Street suggested the council hold off on implementing either until after EcoMaine finishes pilot studies they’re conducting to explore potential regional waste collection.

“That’s all happening. It’s quickly coming,” he said. “I struggle with this a lot because I want to get going and move this stuff forward … but my recommendation is to wait for those studies to come out.”

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

  • Brian Kelly

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Marijuana Nationwide!

    • Brian Kelly

      It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

      Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

      The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

      Legalize Nationwide!

      • Brian Kelly

        In reply to “Police Chief Michael Morrill said it was important the council implement a ban, calling it a legal and moral issue.”

        What we certainly don’t need are anymore people who feel justified in appointing themselves to be self-deputized morality police.

        We are very capable of choosing for ourselves if we want to consume Marijuana, a far less dangerous choice over alcohol, and we definitely don’t need anyone dictating how we live our own lives.

        We can’t just lock up everyone who does things you don’t personally approve of.

        Speaking of morals and sins, prohibitionists often ask: “How do you know marijuana is a gift from God?”

        This is how we know:

        Genesis 1:29 – And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

        Genesis 9:3 – Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

        Genesis 1:11 – And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

        Genesis 1:30 – And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so.

        Proverbs 15:17 – Better [is] a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

  • Chew H Bird

    Banning marijuana simply demonstrates ignorance of the facts surrounding the substance. We allow sales of alcohol (a physically addictive substance that is a major factor in domestic abuse, drug addiction, and highway deaths) but not marijuana?