KENNEBUNK —  A special town meeting election in Kennebunk is set for April 7, and while polls will be open as usual  6 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day,  Town Clerk Merton Brown is encouraging voters to cast absentee ballots.

Voters will be asked if they wish to amend the current zoning ordinance to allow testing of adult use marijuana within the Business Park Zone, located at the southern end of York Street (Route 1).

Passage of the zoning ordinance amendment would allow facilities like longtime Kennebunk business Nelson Analytical Labs to test adult use (recreational) marijuana. LabDirector Lorri Maling told the those at a Jan. 28 public hearing with the Planning Board and Select Board that the company currently tests medical marijuana. Nelson Analytical Labs also conducts water tests, radon, food and beverage testing and conducts a range of other testing. The lab would be testing for THC content, heavy metals, residual solvents, and for E. coli, salmonella and more, Maling said.

Kennebunk Town Hall is closed to the public, but people can request an absentee ballot by calling 604-1326. During the week before the election, Brown said people wanting an absentee ballot can come to the side door lobby, pick up the phone and dial 1326, and Brown will deliver a ballot to the lobby.

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

At the Jan. 28 public hearing, Erik Gunderson, the director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, said 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.

“No one is endorsing the use,” said Select Board Chair Blake Baldwin during the public hearing. “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.”

Absentee ballots are available. Polls will be open at the town hall auditorium 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 7.

The question as it will appear on the ballot states: “Shall an ordinance entitled ‘2020 Amendments to the Town’s Zoning Ordinance to Adopt Changes to Article 2, Section 2, Article 8, Section 14(B)(5) and Article 10, Section 24, Amendments to Allow Adult Use Marijuana Testing Facilities in the Business Park District and to Change the Term ‘Retail Marijuana’ to ‘Adult-Use Marijuana’ to be Consistent with Title28-B of the Maine Revised Statutes’ be enacted.”

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