Ogunquit residents will likely have a say on whether marijuana can be sold in local retail stores.
This week, the town’s Planning Board voted unanimously to forward a proposed retail marijuana prohibition to the Select Board. The plan, drawn up by Code Enforcement Officer Scott Heyland, would be included on the warrant for the Nov. 7 special town meeting if selectmen vote to do so.
During the board’s Monday meeting, nary a resident expressed an opinion about the proposed ban, nor did any Planning Board member engage in discussion of the proposal, satisfied with Heyland’s explanation of the plan, which he has worked on for months.
Heyland told the board the proposed ban “does not affect the marijuana legalization act or the rights under that law. And this does not address concerns or issues with medical marijuana caregivers and their laws.”
The proposal would amend Article 7, Section 7.2.G of the Ogunquit Zoning Ordinance. It states: “Retail marijuana establishments, including retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing facilities, and retail marijuana testing facilities, and retail marijuana social clubs, as either a principal use or an accessory use, are expressly prohibited in Ogunquit. … No person or organization shall develop or operate a business that engages in retail sales of marijuana or any retail marijuana-product, both as defined by 7 M.R.S.A. Â§ 2442.”
In November 2016, Maine voters passed the Marijuana Legalization Act, and since then, towns across the state have debated marijuana sale moratoriums; others have voted to become “dry towns.”
Last week, Kittery’s Town Council voted unanimously to prohibit recreational commercial marijuana enterprises, effectively banning any and all types of potential commercial recreational marijuana operations.
“For me for now, there are too many unknowns and I am unwilling for Kittery to be the experiment,” said Councilor Jeffrey Thomson. “I don’t want Kittery to be known for its porn and its pot.”
Last year, North American consumers spent $6.9 billion on legal cannabis products, up 34 percent from 2015, according to an Arcview Market Research report. By 2021, legal retail marijuana sales are predicted to reach $21 billion.
In Colorado, the state has pulled in $506 million in tax revenue since retail sales began in January 2014, according to CNN Money. That includes taxes and fees from medical marijuana, which was legalized years earlier, “but the vast majority of the revenue came from recreational.”
In Maine, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, to use marijuana products in public and to give them to anyone under 21. It will continue to be illegal to purchase marijuana until the state establishes a licensing system. But an individual is allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot though it cannot be used in public, potentially a $100 fine.
Recent news reports indicate the possibility that the statewide February 2018 start date for marijuana stores or social clubs may be pushed back.