‘Boy, have we got our work cut out for us’

Wiscasset ORC talks marijuana, mulls survey
Tue, 05/25/2021 - 7:30am

    A Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) official told a Wiscasset panel Monday, some towns write their rules before opting into business types. “(Then) you’re not in the unfortunate situation where you may have opted in and ... you’re trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, because you didn’t put any limitations in place.”

    A moratorium can give a town time to make the rules, OMP’s engagement and community outreach director David Heidrich told the ordinance review committee.

    The ORC has said it wants to learn what other towns have done, and learn about Maine marijuana law, before drafting possible local rules. In Monday night’s Zoom meeting, Heidrich agreed with Chair Karl Olson, a straw poll of residents might be useful before the committee puts in the time on a long ordinance. Some small towns have quickly eaten up their legal budgets drafting marijuana rules, Heidrich added.

    “Wonderful,” Olson said.

    Heidrich said when a town drafts rules, it should first decide what it wants to accomplish, then determine how.

    Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes said the ORC might also get to hear from Maine Municipal Association. Heidrich had no advice on which opted-in towns to look to for ideas. He said 42 municipalities have opted in for retail marijuana, 55 for cultivation, 50 for products manufacturing and 49 for testing facilities.

    Committee member Jackie Lowell said one ordinance the panel has looked at would require applicants to live in town. The town might want to get legal advice on that and decide if it would want to defend a residency rule, Heidrich said. On the advice of Maine Attorney General’s Office after OMP got sued on Constitutional grounds, OMP is not enforcing the residency part of the adult use statute, he said.

    Olson said the ORC very much appreciated Heidrich’s meeting with it. “Boy, have we got our work cut out for us,” Olson said.

    The committee is considering a short survey on paper and online to gauge residents’ interest in any of the options. “If we get ‘absolutely not’ as the majority on all four (options), then we’re done, as far as I’m concerned,” Olson said.