Bucksport bans retail marijuana

BUCKSPORT — When it comes to retail marijuana, the Town Council has put its foot down.

At a meeting on July 27, the council voted to approve amendments to the land use and zoning ordinance that prohibit retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs in town.

While Bucksport residents can still use marijuana privately for recreation or for medical purposes, they are prohibited from cultivating, manufacturing, selling or testing it for retail purposes.

The ordinance follows a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana that began this winter. The moratorium allowed the town Planning Board some time to look more closely at how other states such as Colorado and Washington have reacted to legal retail marijuana.

The results of the study were inconclusive, and the Planning Board received very little public comment for or against the moratorium. Though Maine voters narrowly voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last November, Bucksport residents voted no on the measure.

That helped town councilors make up their minds about whether to allow retail marijuana establishments and clubs in town. In May, they directed the Planning Board to look into updating town ordinances to prohibit retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

Councilor Paul Rabs researched the issue extensively. At a Town Council meeting in May, he cited Maine legislative document 1527, which, if passed, would levy a special 20 percent sales tax on retail marijuana.

Of that tax, Rabs read, 45 percent would go to the Bureau of Alcohol Beverages and Lottery Operations, 10 percent to the Department of Public Safety, 5 percent to Department of Health and Human Services and the remaining 40 percent to the state’s General Fund.

“You know how much tax we get out of that?” Rabs asked, referring to the town of Bucksport. “Zip-squat nada…we’re not going to get a penny out of it.”

Rab’s comments helped the Town Council move decisively toward banning retail marijuana.

Still, just because the ordinance is in place does not mean it can’t be changed in the future.

“If it turns into the best thing since sliced bread there’s nothing that says the town couldn’t change its ordinance,” Town Manager Susan Lessard said at the meeting in May.

David Roza

David Roza

David grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and now covers news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.