Blue Hill to vote on marijuana establishments



BLUE HILL — Maine’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana has prompted Blue Hill officials to organize a vote on whether to prohibit retail marijuana establishments.

Selectmen Jim Schatz and Vaughn Leach voted at the board’s regular Friday meeting to plan a special town meeting to consider a prohibition ordinance.

“We’re thinking it will be somewhere around the first of February,” Schatz said.

Selectman John Bannister was absent.

The ordinance, if passed, would prohibit marijuana social clubs and retail establishments. It would not affect possession for personal use, which also is allowed by the legalization initiative approved by the state’s voters. The ordinance would take effect immediately and remain in effect until amended or appealed, Schatz said.

The town of Blue Hill traditionally holds its annual town meeting in April, which is three months away.

Why not wait until April?

“The word we get from the attorney community, they’re cautioning us that if regulations come out in the meantime, it may limit our ability to control,” Schatz said. “As rules get made, they be of such a nature it’s more complicated for towns to regulate. So, if you’re of a mind to do one thing or another, do it now. I think they’re just being cautious.”

Schatz said a significant number of residents who participated in a straw poll at the 2016 annual Town Meeting voted in favor of prohibiting marijuana-themed businesses.

Blue Hill voters were split evenly during the November 2016 referendum on the legalization question, the selectman said.

“We feel there is a mandate out there directing us to a prohibition,” Schatz said.

Bannister said Tuesday that he hadn’t yet conferred with Schatz and Leach but doesn’t like special town meetings.

“In general, I’m not a fan of special town meetings because usually only a dozen, two dozen people show up,” Bannister said.

Issues that affect the entire town should be voted on at regular town meeting where 500 residents or more will show up for the written ballot portion, Bannister said.

“It just seems to be more democratic,” he said.

During a telephone interview with media on Monday, a resident phoned the town office to express concern about the possibility of marijuana businesses in town.

“I think it doesn’t speak to any of our individual values but it does say that it may not be the kind of business that supports the rest of the economy in town,” Schatz said.