AUBURN – The City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to opt-in to allowing recreational marijuana businesses in the city and to approve an ordinance regulating medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

It was the first reading and public hearing on the measure to adopt the Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Business Ordinance.

A final reading and public hearing will be held June 3.

The ordinance is expected to take effect July 1, when the city will begin accepting applications for existing city-approved medical marijuana businesses.

Starting Aug. 1 the city will accept applications for new medical marijuana businesses.

Following the approval of the ordinance, the councilors voted unanimously to approve amendments to six city zoning ordinances to ensure they comply with the Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Business Ordinance.

According to a city memo, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, medical marijuana testing facilities and medical marijuana manufacturing facilities that were operating with city approval prior to Dec. 13, 2018, may continue to operate, “provided they comply with any and all state and local laws, ordinances and regulations.

Joel Pepin, a Standish resident who grew up in Auburn and is part-owner of a medical marijuana processing plant, commended the work of the committee that helped draft the language of the marijuana ordinance.

“(The committee) was very transparent throughout the process, and I think they were very fair and professional in their approach,” Pepin said Monday before urging the councilors to approve the ordinance.

The council’s action Monday made Auburn one of the first municipalities in Maine to adopt an ordinance with rules for adult use marijuana prior to the state’s rollout of the program.

City officials have largely been supportive of marijuana businesses in Auburn, and there have already been some high-profile projects announced in anticipation of the new zoning rules.

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