BUCKFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 Tuesday evening to hold a special town meeting Monday, Jan. 30, to vote on a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Auditorium.

The moratorium is the only issue on the warrant.

On Nov. 8, Maine voters narrowly approved a referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana, allowing municipalities to regulate the location and operation of such enterprises.

Chairman Warren Wright said residents must approve a moratorium on establishments and clubs in town.

Selectwoman Maida DeMers-Dobson said she has “liked the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, because I think we have a ton of folks in our state and country who are criminalized for this.”

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What’s needed is how the town will regulate the establishments and social clubs, she said.

“If we think about a moratorium as a first step, it buys us time for the Legislature to look at the issue and put into play rules and regulations that are standard for the entire state,” she said. “This way, we’re not setting something up that Turner or Leeds doesn’t have.”

She said a 180-day moratorium is “defensible,” and “something we should encourage our town to support at a town meeting.”

DeMers-Dobson clarified that the moratorium would not affect people’s right to use marijuana.

“This is only affecting the sale of marijuana within retail establishments or social clubs,” she said.

Town Manager Cindy Dunn said her research into the law and the progress of the law in the Legislature showed “the state may not even be ready until the end of 2017.”

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“One hundred eighty days won’t be enough,” she said. “If the town decides to go with a 180-day moratorium, we’ll probably be coming back in six months and asking for another 180 days.”

Dunn said the town also has to consider whether or not Buckfield is an “appropriate place” for retail marijuana.

“When I say ‘appropriate,’ I mean, do we have the proper law enforcement presence to address issues that may come back?” she said.

One resident asked Dunn what her suggestion was for selectmen.

She said she would suggest scheduling a special town meeting, and have residents vote on two articles: one asking if they wish to approve a prohibition ordinance, or a moratorium ordinance on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

“If the town decides to vote for the prohibition ordinance, we stop the town meeting right there,” she said. “If they say no to the prohibition ordinance, we go on to the second article, which asks for a moratorium ordinance.”

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Resident Michelle Casey said that she liked the idea of a ban on retail marijuana, even though she disliked the word “ban.”

Selectman Mike Iveson said he didn’t like the idea of pushing for an outright ban on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

After a brief conversation, the board agreed to schedule the town meeting.

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