This Dec. 13 2019 photo shows cannabis flowers to be tested for safety and potency at Nelson Analytical in Kennebunk. The lab tests medical marijuana and is the first in Maine to apply for a state license to test adult use marijuana.  Kennebunk voters will decide at a Special Town Meeting  April 7 whether to change their zoning ordinance to allow adult use testing. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald Staff Photographer

KENNEBUNK – Voters here will decide whether to amend the zoning ordinance to allow state-licensed marijuana testing facilities within the Business Park Zoning District at a Special Town Meeting April 7. the zone is at the southern end of York Street (Route 1).

Select Board members on Tuesday Jan. 29 voted to call the Special Town Meeting after a public hearing the previous evening with the Kennebunk Planning Board.

Passage of the zoning ordinance amendment would allow facilities like longtime Kennebunk business Nelson Analytical Labs to test adult use (recreational) marijuana. Laboratory Director Lorri Maling told the those at the Jan. 28 public hearing that the company currently tests medical marijuana. Nelson Analytical Labs also conducts water tests, radon tests food and beverage testing and conducts a range of other tests.

Maling said the lab would be testing for THC content, heavy metals, residual solvents, and for E. coli, salmonella and more.

The proposed zoning amendment applies only to testing facilities, and not to retail stores, retail manufacturing or cultivation.

Erik Gunderson, the director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, told those at the Jan. 28 public hearing that the office supports Kennebunk “opting in” to allow testing.

“Nelson Analytical has the highest level of readiness,” of any of the labs that have expressed interest in providing testing services, he said. “We’re grateful for Nelson Analytical and the others who have shown interest. It is important we have a thorough testing regime,” said Gunderson.

He said the agency is “nearly ready” to start issuing licenses.

“We need to bring on a testing facility,” he said.

Select Board Chair Blake Baldwin at the Jan. 29 meeting said Nelson Analytical has recently hired three additional people and will need to hire more. As well, he said the company plans to buy equipment that “runs in the range of $500,000,” and noted it would be subject to personal property tax.

“This is not an endorsement or recommendation for marijuana; it’s an attempt to make sure the product out there is safe,” said Select Board member Ed Karytko, in part.

“No one is endorsing the use,” said Baldwin. “The state has voted, we the people, to make adult use legal so we owe a duty to make sure it is safe for consumption.”

Two public hearings have been scheduled – for 6 :30 p.m. on Feb. 11 and March 24.

Absentee ballots will be available March 6, and polls will be open a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 7.

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