Vassalboro voters to decide fate of marijuana ordinance

by Mary Grow

One issue Vassalboro voters will decide at their June town meeting is whether to approve or reject a new ordinance titled “Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance.”

Selectmen have scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29, in the Vassalboro Community School gymnasium. Because the vote on the ordinance will be by written ballot on Tuesday, June 8, voters will not have a chance to debate it in open session before they vote.

Town meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 7, in the VCS gymnasium, and continues with written-ballot voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 8, at the Vassalboro town office.

The marijuana business ordinance repeals the town’s current ordinance and prohibits any new marijuana businesses in Vassalboro. If voters approve, the only allowable marijuana businesses in Vassalboro will be those in operation before the effective date of the ordinance (Feb. 18, 2021, the date selectmen approved it), and licensed medical marijuana caregivers and their cultivation facilities of up to 1,000 square feet.

By ordinance definitions, caregivers’ facilities cannot operate a retail store or dispensary. Pre-ordinance businesses must have town licenses, for which their owners must apply within 60 days after voters approve the ordinance.

A copy of the ordinance is on the town website,, in the center section, below notices of 250th anniversary events and assessor Ellery Bane’s property inspections.

Ordinance provisions spell out license requirements, inspection procedures and related issues. Selectmen will set annual license fees after town meeting, if voters approve the ordinance.

Many provisions are based on issues raised by residents during planning board reviews of applications for marijuana facilities. For example:

  • Applicants must provide evidence that they have all other required state and local permits and approvals.
  • No facility can be located within 1,000 feet of a “public or private school, state-licensed daycare of any size, or occupied residence,” unless the applicant owns the residence. Pre-existing business that do not meet the requirement may continue to operate, but may not expand in any way.
  • All premises must have lockable doors and windows and an alarm system connected to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office; interior and exterior video surveillance operating continuously; and exterior lights with motion detectors.
  • All premises must have odor control systems that ensure no detectable odors outside the “area controlled by the business.”

A marijuana business that violates town regulations can have its license suspended or revoked and can be fined.


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