AUGUSTA — City councilors had a sharply divided reaction Thursday to a proposal to enact a local six-month moratorium banning the sale of recreational marijuana, with some councilors saying the city and the state already have had more than a year to come up with regulations but failed to do so.

Other councilors, however, said the city didn’t enact local rules because officials expected the Legislature to come up with statewide regulations and they didn’t want to waste city staff time coming up with local regulations if they weren’t needed.

City Manager William Bridgeo said a legislative committee co-chaired by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, worked for months to come up with comprehensive state rules about the legalization of recreational marijuana.

But the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage.

Councilors will vote next week on a proposal to form a committee to consider local rules for regulating commercial recreational marijuana activities.

The statewide moratorium on recreational marijuana sales and other commercial activity will expire in about two months, and the city has no local laws in place to regulate the substance, which voters decided to legalize in a 2016 statewide referendum.

At-large City Councilor Corey Wilson said he would oppose a local moratorium because the state has had more than a year to come up with regulations and has not done so.

“I’m against this moratorium,” Wilson said. “I strongly would encourage us to formulate a committee and start our work on what we want as a City Council, regardless of what the state does; because I think that’s now our responsibility, where they failed.”

Bridgeo said a renewed local moratorium could give the city time to come up with local rules to regulate recreational marijuana sales before they become legal. The statewide referendum legalizing recreational marijuana could be implemented as soon as February.

Municipalities cannot prohibit possession or use of pot by adults, but they can regulate or prohibit its sale within their borders.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

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