WILTON — The Wilton Board of Selectpersons voted on Tuesday, April 2, to hold a special town meeting on the following Tuesday, April 9, to discuss and vote on extending the existing cannabis moratorium to the upcoming town meeting.

Wilton’s town meeting is slated for Monday, June 17.

The moratorium, which went into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 17, prohibits the issuing of licenses of cannabis operations for both medical use and adult use. This includes growth, cultivation, testing, and retail.

The moratorium was set to last 180 days [6 months], with its expiration date set for Sunday, April 14.

“One of the big concerns was the number of cannabis operations we had in Wilton,” Vice-Chair Mike Wells, who is also Chair of the Cannabis Ordinance Committee, shared. “We’ve also noticed some deficiencies in our application form or application process.”

Wells also shared the committee, which meets once a month on the first Thursday of the month, has received help from local cannabis entrepreneurs in navigating Maine’s cannabis laws, which he called “a big learning curve as to how the cannabis program works in the state of Maine.”

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Wells stated the Cannabis Ordinance Committee has had five meetings since the moratorium went into effect, and has requested an extension of the moratorium to give more time to prepare the town’s revised cannabis ordinance for the town meeting.

He assured the board the policies would be ready by the meeting.

Wells also said the committee would be discussing and better defining what the fees are going to be for the application and renewal, but the next scheduled meeting, Thursday, April 4, will be postponed to the following Thursday, April 11, due to the storm.

Former Wilton Selectperson Tom Saviello was in attendance and shared with the Select Board some potential changes that may be coming to Maine’s existing cannabis laws.

“I have not paid attention to this until lately,” Saviello shared. “As some of you know, I was on the board when we wrote this.”

Saviello shared with the board that LD 40, “An Act to Amend the Cannabis Law”, may add an additional 22 pages to Maine’s existing cannabis law, and he believes it will “pass the legislature with flying colors.”

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“I appreciate your bringing into compliance with the present rules,” Saviello said, “but you may be right back in it again looking at the new rules, and I don’t know how much it’s changed, but it’s significant, so I’ve been told.”

John Black, owner of Earth Keeper Cannabis, expressed disapproval of the moratorium and the undesired side-effects it has had on existing owners.

“I’m being held up held back from expanding,” Black said. “Whether anybody read the moratorium when it went through, I have no idea, but to prevent me from expanding, which requires only a building permit because my license allows me to expand to whatever I want, I mean, it’s just discrimination against me.”

Black is not the only business in town that has been affected by the moratorium. Recently, The Select Board, under the advice of two law firms, elected not to move forward with a processing application that was submitted by the HoneyComb Farm, which would have been in direct violation of the moratorium.

“I was under the impression that we were [able to approve the application],” Chairperson Tiffany Maiuri stated to the Select Board at that meeting. “There were some comments that made me believe that we could issue the permit.”

During talks of the moratorium, former town manager Perry Ellsworth verbally stated that only new applications would be affected and open applications that have been seen by the Planning Board would be allowed to move forward.

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However, no such clause was added to the moratorium.

Saviello added to this by sharing that he had spoken with Chief of Police Ethan Kyes, asking if there were any concerns from the existing cannabis operations that are licensed by the town.

“And the answer was, ‘we have minor things that are not related to the businesses’,” Saviello said.

“I know you’ve got other issues that are out there, of certain people growing illegal grows,” Saviello continued, “but the people we have here are doing a good job. So, what I would suggest is to amend the moratorium so that you can allow those businesses to exist that already have the permit in what they do allow to continue to do that.”

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