OAKLAND — Oakland has become one of the first communities in Maine to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of marijuana and the establishment of marijuana social clubs.

The 5-0 Town Council vote Wednesday does not prohibit the legal use and cultivation of marijuana as approved by Maine voters in November, Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman said before Wednesday’s Town Council meeting.

Private marijuana possession and growing will still be allowed. The ordinance does not affect medical marijuana or personal use of recreational marijuana.

Private marijuana possession and growing will still be allowed. The ordinance does not affect medical marijuana or personal use of recreational marijuana.

Eric Conrad, director of communication and educational services at the Maine Municipal Association, said Oakland’s vote to ban sales and clubs “is either first or right up there” in Maine. Other communities have approved moratoriums so they can consider zoning and other issues concerning such establishments.

“I can’t guarantee that there’s not some town somewhere, but I just talked to our head lawyer and she said, and I agree, that there aren’t many that are this far along in a prohibition yet,” Conrad said. “As far as we’re concerned, if they’re not the first, they’re one of the very first.”

One resident Wednesday night said she is a medical marijuana caregiver and objects to a permanent ban.

“I have a big problem with the word ‘prohibition,’ ” Andrea Thomas told council members. “We’re not all just stupid stoners. There’s a lot of people in this community who need this.”


Council Chairman Michael Perkins said the board simply was “erring on the side of caution” until the state figures out how to regulate the law. He said the town can revisit the question of a total ban if residents petition to do so.

Thomas countered that there are bars and liquor stores in Oakland that no one seems to mind. She said alcohol consumption is far worse than marijuana use.

Councilor Don Borman pointed out that Oakland was once a “dry town” banning sales of hard liquor, but that was reversed after residents petitioned for the change.

The marijuana law, approved Question 1 in a state referendum by about 4,000 votes, allows towns to regulate the number, location and operation of retail marijuana stores, cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities and social clubs, and also can impose local licensing requirements. They also can become dry towns by implementing an outright ban on all marijuana business, which is what Oakland did Wednesday night.

Private marijuana possession and growing will still be allowed even in towns that ban retail businesses. The ordinance does not affect medical marijuana or personal use of recreational marijuana.

The Maine law allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, grow their own plants and buy marijuana from licensed retail stores. The initiative also allows marijuana social clubs and imposes a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana. Marijuana use will be prohibited in public, with violations punishable by a $100 fine.


Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. It remains to be seen whether LePage or President-elect Donald Trump will take steps to block or roll back laws in Maine and seven other states that have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Oakland residents voted 1,914-1,620 against Question 1.

Oakland councilors took the route of becoming a “dry town” rather than implementing a moratorium and local restrictions. Bowman told councilors last month that because the town’s comprehensive plan isn’t updated and the town doesn’t have zoning, it can’t enforce a moratorium.

Skowhegan selectmen in November decided to pursue becoming a dry town after residents voted 2,152-1,897 against Question 1. The Planning Board is developing an ordinance to ban marijuana businesses that will likely go to voters at the annual Town Meeting in June.

If Skowhegan residents decide not to become a dry town, officials will ask them to implement a moratorium to allow town officials time to figure out how to handle marijuana businesses. Skowhegan has a local controlled-substance facility ordinance in place regulating methadone clinics and medical marijuana dispensaries, but town officials said it is unclear if the town can use the same ordinance to regulate recreational marijuana businesses.

In Madison, Town Manager Tim Curtis said Wednesday that after taking input from residents during a Dec. 19 public hearing, selectmen have scheduled a special town meeting for Jan. 9 to vote on imposing a 180-day moratorium on marijuana retail sales and social clubs.


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