Dexter council will be considering local control of recreational marijuana legislation

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DEXTER — During the November 2016 election Maine residents approved a referendum concerning the possession and use of marijuana by those 21 and older which also allows for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of marijuana and products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance. In the months since, town officials across the state and the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) have been examining what the referendum means, how the Maine Legislature is responding and what individual communities can do with local ordinances.

During an Oct. 12 council meeting, Town Manager Jim Chandler said he and Police Chief Kevin Wintle attended the recent MMA convention in Augusta with a number of sessions there concerning marijuana.

“The bottom line is the state legislature is still preparing the final language they are going to use,” Chandler said. He said moving forward, towns are going to need to opt in for recreational marijuana, for use, sale and growth to be permitted.

“Medical marijuana is still protected, we can’t bring forward a moratorium or prevent it,” Chandler said, as residents are able to have up to six plants on their property for their own use.

“It’s just an ongoing legal issue I would like to get ahead of,” Chandler said, saying he wanted the council to be aware before a potential marijuana ordinance is brought forward. “We, the code enforcement and police are being proactive. It will be something coming forward sooner rather than later.”

Chandler said he has been looking at what other communities have done and are in the midst of and he is working with MMA to learn more. “It will be an ordinance so it will require a public hearing and all that,” he said.

In other business, the council passed an order allowing for the demolition of a dangerous building at 121 Main Street and for the demolition costs to be recovered by the town as allowed by statute.

Council Chair Marcia Delaware said a report by Plymouth Engineering formally stated that the structure is unsafe and uninhabitable.

“The condition is not getting better,” Code Enforcement Officer Al Tempesta said.

“We have no choice, we have got to move forward or throw the code book away,” Councilor Chuck Ellms said.

Councilor Sharon Grant said she has talked with the homeowner, who lives in Oklahoma, and Grant said the owner has made no effort to remedy the problem.

“She will be given a 20-day notice to remove any personal property, and we will put out a bid for demolition,” Delaware said.

The council also accepted a $1,800 donation from the Dexter Revitalization Committee and a $400 contribution from the Dexter Lakes Association for the repair of the Big Lake Wassookeag boat ramp. Councilors also authorized using $1,799 in town funds for the project.

They also accepted a $250 donation from resident Gary Santos for the continued funding of the police department’s K-9 unit.

“Evidently he saw Zelda at the hot dog festival and was quite impressed with what she was doing,” Delaware said about a K-9 demonstration held during the second annual event in August. Delaware said she was hoping Santos could have been present to be thanked in person, but she said she believed he was elk hunting in Utah.

The council normally meets the second Thursday of the month but, per a request from Chandler, next month’s session will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers instead of the week before. Chandler asked for the switch with the election being held two days before the regular meeting date and with Nov. 9 falling on the eve of Veterans Day.

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