ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County Commissioners will hold a public hearing at a virtual meeting in December to gauge residents’ interest in opting into allowing retail marijuana operations in all 15 of the county’s unorganized territories.
At a meeting on Nov. 3, commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of holding the public hearing at a regular meeting in December. Commissioners Antonio Blasi and John Wombacher were in favor. Chairman William Clark voted against the motion, not because he is opposed to the public hearing, he said, but because “I don’t think marijuana sales is a good fit for the [unorganized territories]… this is going to put a certain amount of burden on our law enforcement.”
Millard Billings, supervisor of the unorganized territories, agreed.
“I don’t think this is a good fit for the unorganized territories, just because of the distance from the Sheriff’s Office,” Billings said.
Under Maine law there are four types of adult-use marijauna establishments — retail, growing, manufacturing and testing — and municipalities are automatically opted out of all of them. If a community does decide
to opt in, it can choose to allow any or all of the four categories.
As of Aug. 28, forty-nine municipalities had opted in to at least one type of adultuse establishment, according to the Maine Municipal Association. No Hancock County municipalities were on the list, but at least one, Surry, was set to vote on opting in on Nov. 3.
Blasi said he had heard some support for opting in from constituents.
“When I’ve asked constituents whether to opt in or not, I’ve never gotten a no, I’ve gotten yes as a reply,” he said.
Maine’s recreational cannabis market opened Oct. 9, almost four years after a referendum vote legalizing it for adult use. At least six retail licenses have been issued, according to the Portland Press Herald, including in Bangor, South Portland, Newry, Stratton, Northport and Damariscotta.