BRIDGTON — Voters next month will decide if new and existing marijuana operations in town must obtain a local license.

The question is on the Nov. 3 ballot as an amendment to the existing licensing ordinance for food and drink establishments. Applicants would be charged a fee, which would go to the town.

“It’s a lot like a food establishment license or a liquor license,” said town attorney Aga Dixon of the Portland law firm Drummond Woodsum.

Residents voted in July to allow marijuana retailers in town nearly four years after the majority of Bridgton voters approved the statewide referendum to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

With a couple of exceptions, the licensing ordinance would give the town the ability to regulate all marijuana operations in town, including cultivators, manufacturers and medical and recreational marijuana purveyors.

Unlike the town of Windham, for example, which has a Town Council form of government, Bridgton’s selectboard-town manager model requires any amendments or new ordinances to go before residents in a referendum election, Dixon said.

If residents vote down the ordinance, Code Enforcement Officer Brenda Day said, marijuana establishments will only need a state license, and not a local one, to operate in town.

The fee to apply to set up a marijuana business would range from $500 to $2,000, based on the type of operation.

“There is a lot of money on the table,” Community Development Director Linda LaCroix said at a selectboard meeting early last month.

She wrote in a memo that an employee from another town told her, “Do not go cheap on your fees. There is a lot of work involved … The applicants will be willing to pay the fee.”

While there are no limits on the number of licenses under the proposed ordinance, there will be limits on where a marijuana business can set up shop in “sensitive areas,” such as areas near schools, day cares and places of worship.

The license application would be reviewed by the selectboard and the site use plan, which is related to the ordinance that passed in July, would be reviewed by the Planning Board.

There are currently four operations in town that are licensed by the state, according to Day: a manufacturing facility operated by Canuvo, a medical dispensary in Biddeford; two caregiver “grows,” essentially secure units where a small number of licensed caregivers keep their plants; and Maine Only Bud Bar, a medical retail store on Portland Road, which the Planning Board approved on Sept. 15.

If the ordinance passes, the existing businesses will have 30 days to apply for a license.

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