PORTLAND, Maine — The number of cities and towns opting in to legalize marijuana is slowly growing, as the state gets closer to accepting applicants for licenses.
Governor Janet Mills signed a bill a few weeks ago that sets up a legal framework for recreational marijuana businesses.
The state plans to start accepting applications for those business licenses by the end of the year.
Months ago, the Windham Town Council created an "Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Task Force" that would consult with the council on best practices for integrating marijuana business into town.
The night of Tuesday, July 9, people came into the council meeting feeling as though they had been duped. Some believed that the council disbanded the marijuana task force without their knowing.
But after that rumor was dispelled -- tension still remained.
Councilors and cannabis advocates outlined their positions on the battle over adult retail-use stores in Windham.
"I'm floored, I'm shocked, and I'm very angry over this. I can't believe the will of the voter is totally being ignored," one resident said.
Rumors proved to be just that. The council reassured the committee that they had not been disbanded.
The town council voted to allow everything except adult-use retail storefronts in Windham.
Cannabis advocates say that's a major setback.
"Now we have to fight more prejudice and the close-minded old guard of this town for the right to do what the voters wanted, which was to allow all access to cannabis," said another resident.
Councilors say they're trying to balance the needs of the cannabis community, with people who voted against it in 2016.
"Complaints from constituents that I get is the smell, they have concerns about crime, they have concerns about their kids getting access to it," said councilor Timothy Nangle.
"There's a lot of people concerned we're becoming 'Weedham'. That's what they're calling us. 'Weedham'. Who cares? Jesus? Well, we have to listen to both sides," said councilor Donna Chapman.
Cannabis business owners say not allowing recreational storefronts in Windham will cost the town in the long run.
"They would love to buy their cannabis here in Windham after getting their groceries at Hannaford or stopping at Walmart. Instead, they're going to end up going to other communities. They'll go to Raymond if they opt-in or Portland or South Portland," said the owner of Sticky Bud Farms.
Councilor Jarrod Maxfield says the decision to allow adult use stores in Windham should go back to the voter.
"My opinion is the council and the committee should work together and the council should put this back on the ballot in November."
In the interim, the task force remains active. The town council will consult with the town lawyer to draft ordinances concerning adult-use marijuana, that will be sent to the task force for review and implementation.