Orono’s school board wants retail marijuana shops banned from the 11,000-person town’s downtown area.
That’s the official recommendation of the five-person school board as town councilors in Orono, home to the University of Maine, consider rules governing commercial marijuana operations in town.
In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the school board recommended banning retail shops from downtown and urged the Town Council to consider the impact on the town’s 800 public-school students as it develops rules regulating marijuana businesses.
Two school board members, Jacob Eckert and Mark Brewer, said they preferred recommending a townwide ban on commercial marijuana operations to the Town Council. The three other members — Chairman Brian McGill, Erin Ellis and Geoff Wingard — decided on suggesting the downtown ban instead.
Like other towns in Maine, Orono is still awaiting regulations from the state outlining rules for retail sales and cultivation. The town has a moratorium on commercial and medical marijuana operations in effect until April.
At the school board’s December 2018 meeting, parent and Orono resident Jamie Comstock asked the school board to recommend banning commercial marijuana operations in Orono, but McGill said at the time that he wasn’t sure that the school board should weigh in. Comstock had previously made a similar request of town councilors at one of their meetings in November.
At the November council meeting, members discussed zoning for marijuana retail businesses, and they specifically discussed restrictions on locating near the town’s schools. Some members said they would prefer to go above and beyond the state’s general ban on marijuana operation within 1,000 feet of a school zone.