Local regulation of marijuana establishments will be the subject of another public workshop by the Orono Town Council later this month.

The rules for recreational marijuana were finally approved by the Legislature last month, two and a half years after legalization was approved by Maine voters in a referendum vote in 2016. Communities will not be required to allow marijuana sales, and numerous Maine cities and towns, including Orono, have enacted lengthy moratoriums so they could sit back and look at their options.

Town officials have been working on Orono marijuana rules for nearly 18 months and are close to getting ready to adopt regulations. The council has never taken an official stand, one way or the other, on whether they feel marijuana sales should be legal in town.

At a recent public forum, Planner Kyle Drexler offered a presentation on the town’s research to date. He noted that are four types of establishments that would have to be considered: cultivation, product manufacturing, retail stores and testing. Town zoning ordinances would restrict where such establishments could go; for instance, cultivation would only by allowed in the forest and agricultural district. One area where a consensus seems to have been reached is to not allow sales in the village commercial district, which has schools and the town library nearby; marijuana establishments are not allowable within 1,000 feet of schools or other marijuana stores, nor withing 500 feet of a church.

Other standards would have to be met as well. Stores can only be open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and are limited in size to 10,000 square; marijuana plants only can be shown in signage. Steps also would be required to keep odors in check, and security measures, such as surveillance cameras would need to be in place. Waste disposal area also would have to be shielded from the public.

After Drexler spoke, that forum was opened up to the public. While only a handful of people spoke, they universally panned the idea of marijuana sales in Orono.

Councilors are scheduled to again take up marijuana establishments at a meeting on July 29 at 6 p.m. More information is available at https://www.orono.org/645/Marijuana-Information. The town also encourages residents to offer feedback online at https://www.orono.org/FormCenter/Feedback-10/Marijuana-Establishments-In-Orono-71.

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