In about two weeks, a draft marijuana ordinance could be ready to send Wiscasset selectmen for a first look.
“It’s not a finished product, but it could be,” Ordinance Review Committee Vice Chair Al Cohen told participants in Monday night’s Zoom meeting. They discussed calling it a proposed cannabis, instead of marijuana, ordinance; and proposing letting all uses but retail be in the rural zone, which, from a map shown in the meeting, is most of Wiscasset.
Retail would mean traffic, so that should be in the commercial district, participants said. Cohen said areas in town with land and not a lot of ledge could attract a tax-paying facility for testing or manufacturing. The industrial park near Maine Yankee might be a desirable spot, he said. He suggested requiring facilities be at least 500 feet from any home. Fellow member Anna Ridle lived in Washington state when marijuana businesses opened there. They do not try to draw attention, “So I think (residents) won’t really realize that they’re there, based on my experience,” she said.
The panel kept a would-be ban on marijuana stores, testing and manufacturing in village I and II districts.
Selectmen’s Chair Sarah Whitfield, the board’s liaison to the ORC, said the board did not give the ORC a lot of guidance on a marijuana ordinance. So selectmen could review it and decide it is all set for the next steps, including a public hearing with the planning board, or selectmen could send it back to the committee, she said.
She recommended the ORC make final edits and send it to selectmen “sort of as an advisory thing (to) discuss, so we don’t then have to do it again.” Cohen said the ORC could finish the proposal at the committee’s next meeting.
Barring a special election, November is the soonest a proposal could go to a town vote, Whitfield responded to a question from Wiscasset Newspaper.
As for the possible name change from marijuana to cannabis, participants noted other places in the U.S. are changing or looking at changing to that term.