Rockland considers adding referendum poll to November ballot

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 1:00pm

ROCKLAND – Should Rockland’s November ballot include advisory referendum questions regarding medical marijuana in general and Main Street retail, specifically?

The suggestion by Councilor Ed Glaser to add the opinion-only poll to the ballot was debated during the Wednesday, Sept. 5, agenda-setting meeting, with at least one community member saying not to bother.

Glaser said: “If retail stores pass overwhelmingly in town, which is probably going to be the worse case scenario, then we pretty much know that the medical marijuana store would pass, too. If it’s close, than we have to use some discretion, and figure it out ourselves. But I think this would give us a lot more guidance than we currently have about what everybody in town feels about it, rather than what we get from hearsay.”

A state law was amended after Rockland initiated its own dispensary ordinance. A frustrated applicant is fighting to proceed, during moratorium, toward what a previous applicant has already obtained, and still, the federal law claims all marijuana to be illegal.

Two weeks after beginning a moratorium, Rockland continues to struggle with the difference between selling products at growing facilities versus a selling from an established shop, and do residents approve of marijuana retail on Main Street?

One problem, according to City Attorney Mary Costigan, is that when people in general see the word ‘retail,’ they’re not thinking ‘medical.’

“My understanding of a medical store is that anyone can walk in to the store, but you’d have to be a patient of a caregiver to buy,” she said.

Previously, Rockland allowed for five patients. With the change in state law, there can be any number of patients. Therefore, anyone with a medical marijuana card can come to Rockland, walk into a store, and instantly become a patient, according to Costigan.

Also changed in the state statute, a patient no longer has to have a debilitating condition.

“Essentially, the gate is just the card,” said Councilor Adam Ackor.

Resident Doug Curtis does not favor marijuana in the downtown area, nor does he favor it in Rockland at all. However, he told Council that his opinion makes no difference, and he wishes that the questions not be on the ballot.

“Even though it passed in the state of Maine, it is a federal law, and I wish the federal government would deal with it, and not the states,” he said.

Curtis said that he’s kicked five guys out of the U.S. Military for smoking marijuana. He said he didn’t have a good feeling about doing so, but it was the law.

Curtis also reminded Council about an education advisory committee that was created after a referendum vote asking if Rockland wanted to remain within RSU 13.

He said: “We put together a committee. We worked hard in this committee. We had differences of opinion. We wrote letters to the Council. We sent you guys information. What did you guys do with it? You didn’t even meet with the committee one time. And you eliminated the education committee.”

Another speaker, who is a former Coast Guard member and currently in the Reserves, also saw military members be dismissed for marijuana use. Citing Rockland as a Coast Guard city, and also questioning a town’s authority to go around federal law, he approved of the ballot poll.

Though the speaker initially voted for marijuana, he told Council he wished he could rescind that vote.

My wife and I “would hate to see Rockland go in that direction, recreationally.”

 

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Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com