WATERBORO — Selectmen in Waterboro say they’ll decide soon whether to include a referendum question on the June ballot that asks voters if they wish to become a “dry” town when it comes to commercial marijuana cultivation, retail sales and social clubs.

Selectmen are expected to decide on March 28 whether to ask voters if they wish to become completely dry, which would ban all commercial aspects of the newly passed state marijuana law in town, if they wish to allow some commercial activity, or all of it.

They discussed the issue when they met on Thursday at their regular meeting, postponed from Tuesday because of the blizzard.

In November, Waterboro voters approved the statewide recreational marijuana referendum 55 percent to 44 percent. 

Selectman pointed out that if voters approve going dry, it won’t change the personal use provisions in the recreational marijuana law, just the provisions that pertain to commercial cultivation, retail sales and social clubs.

Lee Jay Feldman, Waterboro’s contracted planner, told selectmen they can choose to ask folks if they wish to go dry, or take some other approach, like if they wish to limit licensing.

The state Legislature in late January agreed to postpone adopting the commercial aspects of the law until February 2018 so rules could be drafted. As well, legislators have submitted a number of bills that would amend the recreational marijuana law in various ways — those bills are expected to be tackled this legislative session.

The law, as it currently reads, allows a maximum commercial cultivation of 800,000 square feet of marijuana statewide.

“If voters say ‘no’ to a dry town, there’s a lot more work to do,” said selectmen’s board Chairman Dennis Abbott, pointing out that crafting an ordinance that deals with zoning and land use will take time.

Feldman said selectmen could choose to ask voters if they wish to limit the number of retail shops, and pointed out they could choose to include provisions like a buffer zone around schools or some other regulations.

“You can limit the number of licenses, or seek request for proposals,” said Feldman, pointing to the local control provisions in the law.

Selectman Tim Neill said that a growing facility would need 3-phase power. Selectman Jon Gale said any firm would have to have considerable internal security measures and wondered if growing facilities would effect local policing. 

Selectmen are not required to put the question to the voters, they are empowered, under the town charter, to vote on ordinances themselves after  public hearings are held.

Town Administrator Gary Lamb pointed out that the state sales tax, as currently outlined in the law, is 10 percent. Municipalities would gain only a bit of  property tax and personal property tax from a commercial operation, he said.

“I’m in favor of a dry town because we get almost nothing out of this,” Lamb said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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