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Maine Towns Begin Planning for Recreational Cannabis Retailers and Social Clubs

City officials are finding that drafting recreational marijuana regulations is a thorny issue.

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Now that Maine voters have approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, towns and cities must draft rules and regulations regarding how marijuana will be consumed and sold in their jurisdictions. In January, the state legislature approved a moratorium on retail sales and taxation until at least next February, in order to give legislators time to resolve issues and create regulations.

The rural city of Hallowell is one example of a Maine town that is currently considering the implications of legalization. According to Code Enforcement Officer Doug Ide, Hallowell is “very ripe for retail establishments and social clubs that would change the character” of the town. City officials have discussed limiting the total number of these establishments, but have not yet settled on a number.

City Manager Nate Rudy has asked the Marijuana Task Force to provide the city's Ordinance Rewrite Committee a framework to help them proceed with creating the appropriate language to regulate recreational weed in the city. “I would ask you to define the roles between the committee and the Marijuana Task Force,” he said to task force members. “Or else you’ll have a lot of meetings that aren’t going to generate good content.”

The issue of how to handle legalization is a tricky one, as officials must decide what marijuana businesses they will allow, and where. Councilor Lynn Irish has said that every time the task force discusses recreational legalization, “there’s more and more issues that come up.” The task force also presented “differing opinions on whether the rural districts are the place for any forms of cultivation,” Rudy said. “Every time we answered one of those questions, three more came up.”