PARIS — Voters will once again have the opportunity to vote for or against a proposed marijuana ordinance at Tuesday’s election.

The town voted to opt in to allowing marijuana facilities in 2018, but still lacks an ordinance.

Officials have made several changes to the original proposed ordinance that failed in October 2020 by an 18-22 vote at a special town meeting.

The proposed ordinance now deals with both medical marijuana as well as recreational-use facilities, while the previous one in 2020 only covered recreational retail businesses. Instead of three recreational-use shops, the new ordinance allows two recreational-use stores and three medical marijuana shops. The size of allowable space for shops has increased from 1,200 square feet to 1,400 square feet.

There is also a limit of three marijuana cultivation facilities, with a maximum plant canopy of 2,000 square feet for mature plants and 1,000 for nursery cultivation. Only non-toxic methods may be used in manufacturing and processing.

License and operational fees will be determined by the Board of Selectmen after the ordinance passes.


According to state rules, facilities must be 1,000 feet away from schools and 500 feet away from licensed day care centers. Marijuana businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet from one another.

Other restrictions put in by the town include being 500 feet away from churches, parks and recreational areas, such as Moore Park.

According to feedback the town received after the failed 2020 vote, the measure was rejected for a number of reasons. Among them, some residents did not want any shops in town, but many others felt the proposal was too restrictive.

To address those concerns, Kathy Richardson, who led the committee that drafted the original proposal, reviewed ordinances from a dozen area communities who already have marijuana shops in their towns. She also talked with stakeholders in the industry to get their suggestions and input on why the proposal failed and how best to move forward. A trial group of residents, area business leaders and marijuana stakeholders met to help review the proposal, Richardson said.

At a public hearing on the proposal in August, board Chairman Christopher Summers said it was best to move ahead slowly in bringing marijuana businesses to town instead of proceeding with no restrictions at all, as some like Selectman Carlton Sprague has suggested.

“We have loosened, somewhat, the conditions and number of each type that will be allowed in Paris,” Summers said at the public hearing. “But I would prefer to walk into this gingerly and cautiously rather than throwing the doors wide open and just see what happens. I think it makes a lot more sense to try it out and see how it goes. We’re not against the idea that if there aren’t any issues that we could open the door further, but once the doors are thrown open, it’s really hard to control it.”

If the vote fails, town officials will have to determine whether to bring it back for another vote, place a moratorium on the issue or have another vote on whether residents want to opt in or opt out of having marijuana businesses in town.

Paris voters will vote on the ordinance at the Paris Fire Station on Western Avenue on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A copy of the proposed ordinance is on the town’s website.

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