West Bath Planning Board suggests pot moratorium
The West Bath Planning Board Tuesday unanimously recommended a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in advance of a Special Town Meeting later this month.
“What we’re trying to do here with the moratorium is simply put the brakes on momentarily so that the town can have an opportunity to figure out what to do,” said Town Administrator Adam Garland. “This is probably identical to what 90 percent of the moratoriums are out there.”
Maine voters approved of “The Marijuana Legalization Act” narrowly in November, and the voters of West Bath approved Question 1 by 34 votes. It survived a subsequent recount and Gov. Paul LePage verified the results at the end of December, meaning that the law takes effect Jan. 30.
Essentially, under state law, the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes will be legal. Municipalities do not have the authority to prohibit this aspect of the law.
A second part of the law allows for the creation of retail marijuana establishments for the purpose of sellin ing recreational marijuana. It also allows for social clubs, where marijuana can be bought and used on the property. Under the law, municipalities can use land use ordinances to effectively regulate the retail establishments. Regulating the retail establishments is difficult, however, until the Legislature issues statewide regulations — which it has nine months to write under the law.
Board members stated that the moratorium was a stop- gap measure to prevent retail marijuana establishments from moving forward in West Bath until the Legislature issued statewide rules. The moratorium would be in effect for 180 days, although selectmen renew it for an additional 180 days as needed until land use rules are in place.
“ The moratorium goes before the voters on January 23,” said Selectmen Chairman Peter Oceretko.
Also up for voters’ consideration at the special town meeting are the sale of property at Wing Farm to RSU 1 for the creation of a new high school, the appropriation of funds to the construction of the salt/ sand shed and the authorization of the West Bath School Administrative Unit to spend almost $200,000 on special education.
The Special Town Meeting is scheduled for 5: 30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23.