ME: Bangor Wants Research Before Deciding Potential Marijuana Restrictions

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Bangor, Maine – Bangor plans to start studying how cities and towns in other states have reacted to the legalization of marijuana before figuring out what, if any, restrictions to set for businesses that want to sell it.

City leadership hopes to get the ball rolling before the November election, when Mainers will decide whether marijuana should be legal in the state for people over 21.

“We’re not taking a position on the referendum itself, and we have no intentions of doing so,” Councilor Joe Baldacci said during a Tuesday night council workshop.

The council plans to explore what ordinances municipalities in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have adopted.

On Tuesday night, councilors said they weren’t supportive of an outright ban on the sale or growing of marijuana and marijuana-related products in the city, which cities could choose to enact under the initiative, but that there likely were lesser restrictions the city could adopt to ensure cannabis is sold safely and legally.

“If our goal were to limit access by becoming a ‘dry town,’ so to say, it’s very easy to drive to Brewer or Hampden to make purchases,” making such a ban ineffective, argued Councilor Josh Plourde.

Under the initiative, municipalities wouldn’t be able to prevent people from using or growing a limited amount of marijuana in their own homes.

The council could decide to restrict where businesses that sell or grow marijuana can set up shop. It also could limit what those businesses can sell.

For example, some states and towns have barred shops from selling edible items containing cannabis, according to Patty Hamilton, Bangor’s public health director.

Council Chairman Sean Faircloth has said he wants to be careful to ensure that businesses aren’t allowed to sell products that could be marketed to children or accidently consumed by children, such as candy that contains cannabis.

Chris Ruhlin, owner of downtown Bangor’s Herbal Tea and Tobacco shop and a member of its next door medical marijuana club, urged the city not to treat marijuana businesses different from bars. He argued that because alcohol is statistically a far more dangerous public health hazard than marijuana, it wouldn’t make sense to relegate marijuana sales to an industrial park while allowing dozens of bars and alcohol sales downtown. He pointed out that several downtown Bangor businesses already are distributing medical marijuana safely and legally.

“I want these potential businesses to be viewed as an opportunity rather than something that’s going to be a massive negative,” he told the council.

The council also faces the question of when it wants to put these potential restrictions in place.

Councilors Ben Sprague and Plourde suggested the city wait until after the elections to decide in a final vote what to do, but to at least have ordinances prepared in advance. They suggested that would help the council gauge how much support Bangor residents have for legalization, and that knowledge should help determine whether marijuana sales should be restricted locally at all, or whether the state’s rules should be the guide.

For now, city staff will gather information about what restrictions have been placed elsewhere to see if any limitations would be suited for Bangor. On Tuesday, the majority of the council seemed to favor holding off on an official decision about what to restrict until after the results of the November election are in.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Bangor Wants Research Before Deciding Potential Marijuana Restrictions
Author: Nick McCrea
Contact: 800.432.7964
Photo Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik
Website: Bangor Daily News