BANGOR, Maine — Bangor officials are preparing for the potential legalization of recreational marijuana by considering ways they might restrict cannabis sales and use in the city.
When voters hit the polls in November, they’ll decide whether to legalize the recreational use and growing of marijuana in Maine for people 21 and over. If the legalization initiative passes, towns and cities can pass certain restrictions, but can’t ban recreational use or cultivation of marijuana outright, under the initiative’s language.
Among the steps the city could take: Banning marijuana retail businesses, cultivation facilities or social clubs from setting up shop in Bangor; allowing the businesses only in certain industrial zones; or passing an “odor ordinance,” regulating “objectionable odors” such as marijuana, according to Assistant City Solicitor Paul Nicklas.
The city’s attorneys have drafted a series of ordinances that the council could choose to adopt in the event marijuana becomes legal.
City staff and councilors will go through the city’s options during a workshop at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday on the third floor of Bangor City Hall.
Bangor public health officials have come out in opposition to legalization.
“In this perfect storm of reduced perception of harm, potential greater access and a growing drug crisis, our children stand to lose the most,” Patty Hamilton, Bangor’s director of public health, wrote in an Op Ed earlier this month. “Our time for the ultimate prevention tactic is now. We are being handed a golden opportunity to protect our children, and we must take it.”
Hamilton and other opponents of the measure have concerns that legalization of marijuana would lead to products geared toward children — things like marijuana-infused gummy bears and lollipops.
She also argues that with legalization will come increased use, and the health hazards associated with regular use or the smoking of any substance.
Proponents of legalization argue it could boost the economy, and that concerns of the health risks associated with marijuana are overblown. As far as concerns about children go, proponents point to studies conducted in Colorado since that state legalized marijuana indicating that the state hadn’t seen an increase in teen use of marijuana in the wake of legalization, according to the Denver Post.
Marijuana is still illegal to possess, use, grow, buy or sell under federal law.
“My first step is to learn more,” said City Council Chairman Sean Faircloth. “I’m concerned about marketing and availability of this product to children. Also, like any product, consumer safety is a concern.”
Faircloth said he would like a significant portion of the revenue from marijuana sales to be diverted to substance abuse education.
“I will be most interested in info related to those topics, as well as other science-based concerns that might be raised,” Faircloth added.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.