BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Bangor city council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to put a six-month moratorium in place if Question 1 is passed next week.
The moratorium would put a temporary ban on establishing marijuana-related social clubs and businesses in the city. Those that are open now that handle medical marijuana will not be impacted.
The decision now placing Bangor among several other Maine communities that have adopted six-month moratoriums in preparation for referendum passing.
Gray, Brewer, and Westbrook have all enacted similar moratoriums, and the town of Cumberland is currently considering one.
"I think it's worth it. Marijuana has been illegal since the 1930s, adding another six or whatever number of months to say alright how would this all work and what is the city's role. I think it's fair to take that time," Sean Faircloth said after Tuesday night's vote.
This temporary ban will allow city officials to have additional time to address any concerns they have on regulations for the city, including adjusting zoning and crafting ordinances.
Assistant City Solicitor Paul Nicklas compared the regulations necessary to those required for a bar as opposed to a liquor store.
"There is some gray area in the act about how fast some of these—particularly social clubs—could spring up into existence," Nicklas said. "The advantage of a moratorium is that it's very clear: we're not going to allow these until we've had a chance to regulate. So it sort of removes some of that uncertainty".
City officials have made it clear they are trying to get ahead of the issue—first meeting to discuss it back in August.
Many of the concerns from those hesitant about legalization revolve around children's access to the drug and edibles.
"In some states, the have very improperly in my opinion appealed to children like gummy bears and stuff like that. I hope the state takes every action to make sure that doesn't happen here," Faircloth said.
However, some feel the temporary ban is unnecessary, claiming marijuana businesses would not be able to establish themselves that quickly anyway.
Jay Nutting with 'Yes on 1' said after Tuesday's meeting he is worried moratoriums like this send the wrong message to those interested in investing in the pot industry.
"I can't really say it's going to be beneficial because there is nothing that can really be done over that period of time anyway. So if it makes them feel more comfortable then I can understand why," Nutting said.
Christopher Ruhlin, owner of downtown Bangor smoke shop Herbal Tea and Tobacco, understands why the council members would want moratorium in place.
"I think that the people that are in this industry now and have worked with the council and with the community are willing to be patient and try to work with them to establish rules that we can all live with," he said.