Jay considers options on medical marijuana storefronts

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JAY — The Board of Selectmen is expected to discuss Monday if it wants to hold a special town meeting at which voters would decide on a moratorium on medical marijuana retail stores.

Selectmen are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. at the Town Office.

Selectmen will also consider putting a question before voters in April 2019 during the annual town meeting referendum to see if residents want to allow medical or adult use marijuana establishments in the future.

Residents opposed legalizing marijuana in a statewide vote in 2016 by a vote of 1,351 to 1,236. 

Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said selectpersons will consider if they want to hold a special town meeting to consider a moratorium on medical marijuana retail stores.

In July, the Legislature adopted two amendments to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, which recognizes municipal home rule authority to regulate registered caregivers, according to Maine Municipal Association information.

One amendment was enacted as an emergency measure that took effect immediately to allow municipalities, by ordinance, to regulate registered caregivers, according to MMA.

The second amendment, LD 1539, becomes effective Dec. 13.

Part of the law authorizes registered caregivers to operate medical marijuana retail stores.

“However, caregivers may only do so if the municipality has voted to allow them generally,” once the law goes into effect, according to MMA.

It is similar to the opt-in requirement for adult use marijuana establishments under the Adult Use Marijuana Act. 

In addition, LD 1539, grandfathers medical marijuana stores that “operate with municipal approval” prior to the law’s effective date. 

However, until Dec. 13 a medical marijuana retail store that is established and operating with municipal approval will be grandfathered and allowed to continue operation even if the town does not opt-in, she said.

In Jay, there is no municipal approval of businesses, LaFreniere said. A business just fills out a state form recording its business with the town, she said.

The town has already received a form for Creative Caring LLC, a cannabis care-giving store to be located on Main Street, she said.

If the board wants to consider a prohibition of medical marijuana stores, a town meeting could be held on Nov. 12.

It would cover the gap between Nov. 12 and Dec. 13,  she said. 

If the town wishes to allow either medical or adult use marijuana establishments in the future, voters must vote to allow them. A vote could be put before voters at the annual town meeting referendum in April 2019. In addition, towns can choose to adopt an ordinance to regulate these establishments if they choose to, LaFreniere said.

State regulations are not completed for adult use licenses.

“But it is our understanding that ultimately such an establishment would apply to the state for a permit,” LaFreniere said, “and the state would need confirmation that the town had opted in before they would grant an approval.”

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