GRAY — The Town Council has decided to take a pass on retail marijuana, going a step further than its past moratoriums and signing off on a zoning ordinance permanently banning marijuana stores and social clubs in town.
The council voted unanimously 5-0 for the ordinance, which states that “retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs are expressly prohibited in all zoning districts within the Town.”
The ordinance also prohibits restaurants and taverns in town from being able to “prepare, sell, serve, or allow to be consumed on premises Retail Marijuana or Retail Marijuana Products.”
The ordinance specifically says that it does not affect the state laws related to the “use, possession or conduct” of medical marijuana.
Gray Community Development Director Doug Webster said after the vote that the ordinance will officially take affect 30 days from Tuesday night, which is Oct. 19.
No councilors or members of the public commented on the ordinance at the Sept. 19 meeting before it was passed.
In providing guidance to town staff in August, councilors had indicated they were looking to ban marijuana outright.
“When I look at all the information that I’ve learned, I do not see enough value for the town, and the law allows us to have Gray be a dry community,” said Councilor Dan Maguire in August. “And that’s what I would propose: that we not allow the cultivation, the processing, the testing or the retail sales of marijuana in Gray.”
Webster said that while he often drafts ordinance language for the town, the marijuana ordinance approved this week was drafted mostly by the town attorney at the request of Town Manager Deb Cabana.
“I do quite a bit of the ordinance writing, but because of the moving targets, if you will, at a federal level and at a state level… together with the legal challenges that have been mounted to some municipalities, the manager, I believe, felt it was appropriate to ensure that the town’s legal counsel draft the amendments to the zoning ordinance that bring the town’s position in line with the current council position,” Webster said.
As with other ordinance language, a future council could choose to change the marijuana ordinance amendments passed Tuesday night, Webster said.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and state legislators and agency officials are still working to implement the retail sale and taxation elements of the Marijuana Legalization Act, which was narrowly passed by voters last November and became law in January.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
Members of the Gray Town Council voted Sept. 19 to approve ordinance changes prohibiting retail marijuana establishments and marijuana social clubs in town.