Norway to place retail marijuana prohibition on June ballot


By Matthew Daigle

NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 to place an ordinance draft prohibiting retail marijuana establishments and social clubs on the annual town meeting ballot in June.

Recreational use of marijuana became legal Jan. 30, though a moratorium signed by Gov. Paul LePage will delay certain provisions of the law until February 2018.

However, Norway residents voted against the marijuana ballot question by a tally of 1,341-1,311, a difference of 30 votes.

Since the vote, some residents, including Selectman Thomas Curtis, have been pushing for the town to put an outright prohibition on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs until the state finishes crafting additional rules and regulations for the law.

During Thursday evening’s meeting, Town Manager David Holt said that he would “personally recommend” putting the Maine Municipal Association model ordinance on prohibiting retail marijuana establishments in front of the voters in June.

“It’s so easy and simple and uncomplicated,” Holt said. “Otherwise, you have to worry about developing an ordinance where you can only limit it to certain places. Those things are more difficult to do.”

Holt said that if the town were to regulate against retail marijuana establishments being set up in the village, they may look elsewhere in town, and residents who live in those areas of town may not want it either.

Near the end of the meeting, Curtis said that he had a copy of the Maine Municipal Association’s model ordinance for the prohibition of retail marijuana establishments and wanted to vote on placing the ordinance on the June ballot.

He said that it prohibits all retail marijuana establishments within Norway, including retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana product manufacturing facilities, retail marijuana testing facilities, and retail marijuana social clubs.

Holt clarified that a prohibition would not people from using recreational marijuana within their own home.

Curtis, along with Selectmen Bruce Cook and Bill Damon, voted in favor of adding the prohibition ordinance to the June ballot, while Chairman Russell Newcomb and Selectman Warren Sessions Jr. voted against it.

In other business, the Board of Selectmen voted to appoint Scott Tabb of Oxford as code enforcement officer.

Tabb has been maintenance director at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Paris for the past 21 years. He succeeds Joelle Corey-Whitman who was recently hired as code officer for Oxford.

“We had 10 applicants, and there were a couple of folks who applied who were fully certified in all areas and would have been fine people to hire,” Norway Town Manager David Holt told the board. “I picked Scott because we felt his personal characteristics fit what we were looking for in the position.”

“I understand that there’s a fair amount of training that he’ll have to do, but given his responsibilities as maintenance director at the Maine Veterans’ Home for the last 21 years, I think he can do it,” Holt said. “It’s my great pleasure to nominate him to be CEO.”

Sessions asked Tabb if he minded furthering his education to become fully certified for the position.

“Not at all,” Tabb said.

Tabb told the board he is used to working with state and federal regulations.