NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 Thursday night to schedule a public hearing this month on a 180-day moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs.

Town Manager David Holt said one selectman approached him and asked if they could discuss the topic at their next meeting.

On Nov. 8, Maine voters will decide whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana, allowing municipalities to regulate the location and operation of retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs and to adopt and enforce regulations for such uses.

Police Chief Rob Federico passed out copies of a memorandum between Paul Nicklas, assistant city solicitor of Bangor, and the Bangor city councilors. The memorandum stated that under the Marijuana Legalization Act, municipalities cannot ban recreational marijuana entirely, or ban the cultivation of marijuana on a limited scale in a personal residence.

Municipalities can, however, ban retail marijuana establishments and social clubs, limit the number of retail establishments and social clubs, or regulate the location and operation of retail establishments and social clubs.

Federico suggested the town vote to approve a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

“I think it’s wise of us to get out in front of this,” Federico said. “If Question 1 passes, it will take the state time to implement a regulatory committee to decide the details. If we can get the moratorium going now, we’ll be able to form a committee with the Planning Board, the code enforcement officer and law enforcement so we can look at these things.”

He said the town needs to decide if it wants social clubs that sell marijuana to be near schools, or within the Main Street historic district.

“We need to start having the conversation, and a moratorium is the beginning of that conversation,” Federico said.

Chairman Russell Newcomb said he “understood the chief’s urgency,” but wanted to schedule a public hearing on the topic before voting on a moratorium.

“By doing a public hearing first, we can get a feeling for what folks want to talk about when it comes to what they might want included in a moratorium,” he said.

Holt said a public hearing would allow selectmen and Federico to “explain what you’re trying to accomplish,” and the hearing would be “reported on and get in the newspaper, which gets the word out to some degree.”

Selectman Warren Sessions Jr. agreed with Newcomb about scheduling a public hearing before voting on a moratorium, and added that he wanted to read through the Marijuana Legalization Act before making a final decision.

The board voted to hold a public hearing Thursday. Nov. 17.

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