The Biddeford City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval for a 180-day moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses in the city.

Biddeford joins a growing number of communities across the state that have implemented or considered temporary bans on such businesses. Officials say they need time to look at land-use regulations and decide where in the city retail stores, social clubs and cultivation businesses would be allowed.

The council is scheduled to take a second and final vote on the moratorium Jan. 3. Councilors Michael Swanton, Robert Quattrone and Bob Mills opposed the moratorium, which passed by a 6-3 vote.

Recreational marijuana use, which state voters approved by a margin of 3,995 votes, includes provisions that the bill’s authors say are intended to allow strong local control.

Towns can regulate the number, location and operation of retail marijuana stores, cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities and social clubs, and can impose a local licensing requirement. They can also become dry towns by implementing an outright ban on all marijuana businesses. Private marijuana possession and growing will still be allowed even in towns that ban retail businesses.

The Biddeford council also voted to extend a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities in the city by 90 days. The city approved a six-month ban in April to give staff and the planning board time to examine land-use regulations and develop a recommendation for the City Council to consider. Councilors Marc Lessard, Laura Seaver and Swanton voted against extending the moratorium.

Contact Gillian Graham at:

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