Mexico votes against marijuana ordinance

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Most of the 80 people attending a special town meeting in Mexico on Sept. 19 voted against prohibition on retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs.

MEXICO — Residents have voted overwhelmingly against prohibition of retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

Some 80 people packed the Mexico Town Hall for a special town meeting on Sept. 19 and over the course of 30 minutes, no one voiced support for approving an ordinance, at least until the state determines the rules of implementation.

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Resident Kent Mann said the town needs to expand its tax base, and marijuana sales could provide a tax base that the town could use. He asked that the town hold off on any ordinance until the state determines legalization implementation.

“Let’s wait until we know what the rules are,” Mann said.

Resident Ken Scott said, “If this passes, the towns around us will get the revenue we could be getting.”

Resident Caroline Mitchell said she used to live in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized. She said a community there with a population of 5,000 receives $1.2 million a year from two stores selling recreational marijuana.

Several people also gave testimony about using medical marijuana to alleviate their pain and other ailments.

“It seems overwhelming that the people here are in favor of voting this down to see what happens and to at least take the opportunity to possibly create some equity for the town,” Selectman Byron Ouellette said.

“There’s a lot of good that could come out of this, but if we stop it right now, it’s going to be so hard to turn it around,” he said. “At least give it a chance to see what the state does and then go from there.”

Selectman T.J. Williams said, “I haven’t taken a stance on this, but my thought is that we’re going into this way too soon. The state hasn’t come up with their guidelines yet. We don’t know what their guidelines are going to be that we have to follow. If you vote ‘yes’ on this, we’re closing the doors too soon.”

The moderator for the meeting was Rep. John Madigan, D-Rumford, Mexico’s former town manager.

He said there will be a special state legislative session during the week of Oct. 23 and he believes they’ll be discussing a draft of a marijuana law at that time.

For months, a group of lawmakers known as the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation have waded through the 28-page law narrowly approved in a referendum vote last November.

They’ve come out with a 70-page draft proposal deleting some parts and expanding on others.

“Maybe by the end of October, there will be a new state law dealing with this,” Madigan said.

He added that among what’s being proposed is to leave complete authority to the municipalities “on what towns want to do on this issue.”

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

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