Naples passes pot moratorium

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — By now, it has been 96 hours.

“Since about 15 minutes ago, the Town of Naples has a marijuana moratorium,” Chairman Jim Grattelo said during Monday’s Naples Board of Selectmen meeting.

He comment followed the unanimous vote to adopt the six-month marijuana moratorium, thus allowing the Town of Naples to put in place a recreational marijuana ordinance.

The town’s new legal counsel Attorney, Amy Tchao, had provided the basic language for the moratorium.

The basic idea is to give the town time to put together a proactive plan when the recreational use marijuana legalization goes into place. But, how that pans out is still up in the air in Augusta.

“If the amendments of legalization go through, we won’t need this,” said Selectman Kevin Rogers who had attended an information lecture on the law.

“The biggest thing about the whole thing is if the last part of the amendments are accepted — unless the town creates an ordinance to accept the recreational” marijuana-based businesses, it cannot happen in that town, Rogers said.

Therefore, if the amendments get a “thumbs up” in Augusta, towns would decide whether to allow those types of businesses.

“If amendments get accepted, it won’t come into a town unless the town writes an ordinance to accept it,” he said.

Rogers clarified that only recreational use law is being discussed, and medicinal marijuana is not part of that since it was already legal.

For the town interested in allowing recreational use-type businesses one of the benefits is income: — a percentage of the taxes.

“There are multiple levels of taxing on the state level; and then the municipalities get the money,” Rogers said. “It is one of the few industries that gives money back.”

“The governor is for economically-feasible situations. This is good for the state, but also for the towns,” he said.

The amended law is scheduled for a vote next week.

Chairman Grattelo did not advocate for a wait and see approach.

“It wouldn’t hurt for us to vote on this,” he said.

The vote to accept the moratorium was 4-0, with Rich Cebra absent.

“This establishes today’s date as the moratorium going into effect as a safe measure,” Grattelo said.

Reporter’s note: Naples Selectman and Vice-Chairman Kevin Rogers represented the Town of Naples at the annual Maine Municipal Association (MMA) meeting. The selectmen approved the selection of Rogers as the town’s voting representative at the meeting. MMA held several workshops, including on the recreational use marijuana legislation and how towns can enact a marijuana moratorium.

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