Waterville, other Maine towns set to deal with marijuana laws

As of January 30, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Maine. Like several other states that have recently legalized, Maine is now facing the challenges associated with regulating the popular drug. The law passed on the November 8, 2016 ballot by a small 3,995 votes, though marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug federally.

According to the City of Waterville Ordinance Regulating Marijuana Facilities, “There shall be no marijuana dispensaries or primary caregiver operations” in the area bordered on the north by Union Street, on the south by Spring Street, on the east by the Kennebec River and on the west by Elm Street. Additionally the properties with frontage on Water Street between Spring Street and Sherwin Street. The land designated in the ordinance comprises all of what is typically considered to be the “downtown” area. Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro did not respond for comment.

While adults over 21 years of age can possess two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana to consume in nonpublic areas or private residences, according to CNN, Maine has not yet legalized the drug’s retail sale. In order to give towns and cities enough time to decide on regulatory measures, the State legislature has postponed retail sales until February 2018.

Current issues with the legalization include how to handle drivers who may have smoked or injested marijuana prior to hitting the road. According to the Morning Sentinel, officers need to perform specialized sobriety tests since there is no legal limit for the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in the blood. Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey was not available to be interviewed for this article.

According to the Portland Press Herald, some towns in Maine have even made the decision to become “dry towns” in the wake of this controverisal law and have placed indefinite bans on the consumption and sale of marijuana.

On Colby’s campus, there will be no changes to existing rules regarding marijuana. In an interview with Director of Security Pete Chenevert, he said, “The College receives federal funding, so we have to go by federal law.” Chenevert analogized the current issue to when the federal government incentivized states to raise the drinking age through federal highway funding in the 1980s.

He also noted that there has been no noticeable spike in marijuana related offenses on Mayflower Hill this academic year.