Dozens of towns around the state have spent the past year scrambling to ban recreational marijuana operations within their borders since voters approved legalization last November.
But a last-minute change to a proposed legislative rewrite of the Marijuana Legalization Act would make those moratoriums and bans superfluous, said attorney Amy Tchao of Drummond Woodsum to an audience of more than 100 municipal leaders at the Maine Municipal Association’s convention Thursday in Augusta. The change would require cities and towns to approve adult-use cannabis operations, not forbid them, she said.
“Municipalities would need to opt in, not out, to authorize marijuana establishments in their town,” Tchao said. “What that means is, if you do nothing, you have effectively forbidden all. This is an incredibly important change for municipalities … If this goes into effect, you don’t need a prohibition ordinance, or a moratorium. Fine if you have it, but you don’t need it.”
Many in the crowd were obviously relieved to hear the news, nodding their heads in approval. Officials from many of the smaller towns said they are still struggling to manage local medical marijuana caregiver operations governed by rules that have been around since 2009.