News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 2, 2017
Surry to vote on prohibiting retail marijuana

by Anne Berleant

On Election Day, November, 7, Surry voters will weigh in on five proposed retail marijuana prohibition ordinances addressing cultivation facilities; manufacturing facilities; social clubs; testing facilities; and stores.

All five are allowed under the Marijuana Legalization Act passed by voters last November. Selectmen had originally proposed one ordinance prohibiting all retail marijuana operations but, after a September 20 public hearing, drafted five separate ordinances and changed the voting format from special town meeting to Election Day referendum ballot.

Since then, Blue Hill voters approved five similar prohibition ordinances in a September 26 referendum vote. And on October 12, the Maine legislature approved a bill amending the Marijuana Legalization Act, requiring voters in municipalities to authorize “some or all types” of retail marijuana establishments, and setting an excise tax on cultivation facilities in addition to the 10 percent sales tax on all marijuana sales.

Five percent of the total sales tax levied will be directly paid to the municipality hosting the facility. Governor LePage has until November 3 to sign the bill into law.

The proposed prohibition ordinances do not affect lawful medical marijuana use, possession or conduct, or personal use, possession or conduct allowed under the Marijuana Legalization Act.

According to an October 10 revenue analysis by the town, $4 million revenue in annual sales, generating $40,000 to the town, will reduce the average tax bill by $25.

If the proposed prohibition ordinances fail to pass, selectmen will then have to draft an ordinance or ordinances regulating the retail operation, as allowed under the Act. Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. November 7 at Surry Elementary School.