SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council voted to renew a six-month moratorium on marijuana businesses in South Portland on Monday, though one councilor disputed the need given the slow pace of related regulatory action at the state level.

The council voted 4-1 on a first reading to extend the moratorium that was passed after Maine voters approved recreational marijuana use by a slim margin last November. A second reading and final vote is expected on May 15.

The goal of the initial ban, which runs through May 21, was to give city staff members and the council time to develop and pass licensing and zoning regulations related to marijuana growing, manufacturing, testing and retail operations.

The new moratorium would run through Nov. 16. The Legislature isn’t expected to have overarching state laws governing marijuana operations ironed out until February 2018.

Councilor Claude Morgan provided the sole vote against renewing the moratorium, saying that it wasn’t necessary and might slow down the city’s effort to get local regulations in place. Morgan said the approval of recreational marijuana use was the voters’ will, adding that the regulations should be similar to those of local bars and that the council wasn’t “introducing smallpox” to the community.

Councilors Maxine Beecher, Linda Cohen, Susan Henderson and Mayor Patti Smith supported the city staff’s recommendation to extend the moratorium as a shield against lawsuits and other actions by eager marijuana entrepreneurs, some of whom already have taken steps to set up operations in the city.

While Beecher expressed strong reservations about recreational marijuana, each councilor spoke of the need to get regulations in place as soon as possible.

“We need to keep it moving forward,” Smith said.

Councilors Brad Fox and Eben Rose were absent Monday night. The portion of the moratorium related to licensing marijuana businesses requires four councilors’ votes, so it will likely pass. The portion of the moratorium related to zoning regulations requires five votes, so its future is uncertain.

While recreational possession became legal in Maine on Jan. 30, the first retail marijuana stores are not expected to open until the spring or summer of 2018 as state policymakers and regulators craft rules for licensing retail sales.

Maine is among eight states, plus the District of Columbia, where adults can legally grow, possess and use marijuana for personal, recreational use. Maine is also one of more than two dozen states that also allow marijuana use for medical purposes.

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