The Old Town City Council will hold its second and final reading on July 17 for a proposed ordinance, that, if approved, would ban retail marijuana establishments and social clubs in the city.

Last November, Maine voters narrowly legalized marijuana, but the language of the citizen-driven initiative was vague in many areas. State lawmakers currently are reviewing the law, with a deadline of next February to finish up; while lawmakers are working, there are many communities questioning whether they should be imposing local restrictions.

In discussing the new law with the city council in April, Police Chief Scott Wilcox said there are five type facilities that likely would be allowed – cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retail stores and social clubs, where any marijuana purchased would have to be consumed on premises. While use would be legal in one’s own home regardless, Wilcox said the council would have the option of banning any of the proposed facilities, and that he recommended the city impose restrictions that already would be in place once the legislature finishes its work. The restriction would not preclude residents from buying marijuana in another nearby community if it was permitted there.

Language for the draft ordinance was presented to the city council last week. It states the purpose of the ordinance would be to impose a ban on the operation of retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs in the city “to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Old Town as these activities constitute a nuisance.”

Included in the ban would be the operation of retail marijuana establishments which includes retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing facilities, and retail marijuana testing facilities. All activities relaed to those retail uses such as, but not limited to, cultivation, possession, extraction, manufacturing, processing, storing, laboratory testing, labeling, transporting, delivering, dispensing, transferring, and distributing also would be banned. Personal and medical use would still be allowed.

The maximum penalty for a first violation of the ordinance would be $2.500. A second violation within a five year period would be $25,000, although that penalty could be increased if it were shown that a violator had received economic benefits exceeding that amount.

Nobody spoke at a public hearing that was held last week on the proposed ordinance.

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