Retail pot? Hancock says not

HANCOCK — With little discussion Tuesday night, Hancock voters opted not to allow commercial marijuana businesses in town.

According to the Maine Marijuana Legalization Act passed in 2018, municipalities must “opt in” to allow adult marijuana establishments within their borders.

The law defines a marijuana establishment as a cultivation facility, products manufacturing facility, testing facility or store.

Article 83 on Hancock’s Town Meeting warrant asked, “Shall the town vote to authorize within the municipality the operation of adult use marijuana establishments provided they operate in compliance with all applicable state and local requirements?”

Voters, for the most part, just said no. More than 150 people crammed into the Hancock Grammar School gym for the meeting, which lasted almost four hours. Article 83 came up for consideration at about 10:10 p.m. It was defeated by a voice vote with only a few voices raised in favor. The meeting concluded within 10 minutes of the reading of the article.

Before the vote, one man asked if it was legal for the town to allow something prohibited by federal law.

Moderator Gary Hunt said the article is in compliance with state law.

“As far as I know, the federal government is looking the other way,” he said.

After the item was defeated, residents voted not to consider Article 84, which would have amended the town’s environmental control ordinance to allow cannabis cultivation and harvesting, commercial production, testing and retail establishments.

In response to a question from a resident, town Planning Board member Antonio Blasi clarified that smoking parlors would not be permitted even if the town voted to allow marijuana establishments.

During the brief discussion of the issue, one resident said he didn’t think marijuana retail stores were something the town wanted. A woman responded by saying she didn’t think marijuana was as terrible as some thought.

Matt Foster, a Hancock resident and district attorney for both Hancock and Washington counties, said marijuana sales are allowed in nearby Ellsworth.

“I don’t think this is something we need in Hancock,” he said.

“Well said,” commented an audience member as Foster strode back to his seat.

Foster later clarified his statements on retail marijuana, saying, “It may as well be legal in Ellsworth.”

The city has not “opted in” to allowing commercial marijuana establishments under state law. There are medical marijuana businesses in the city, however. Mainers no longer need to present a “qualifying” health condition, such as glaucoma, to obtain a medical marijuana card and purchase the drug.

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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