Portland eyes 6-month ban on marijuana shops, though it may not matter

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s almost Election Day. If you haven’t already voted, please do so tomorrow. And let us know if you have any problems at the polls.

By the way, starting at 8 pm, the BDN will have election returns here tomorrow as they come in. That link is for Cumberland County, but you can toggle to display results for any region in the state.

What we’re talking about

In a very last-minute move today, two city councilors announced they were introducing a 6-month moratorium on weed shops in Portland to the agenda for tonight’s council meeting (which was still going on at this writing). It comes the day before the election, when Mainers are voting whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The hope, Councilor Ed Suslovic said, was to “allow staff more time to better coordinate potential city regulations with any that may be implemented by the state.”

But effectively, this could do little. Based on the wording of Question 1, if it passes, it could be more than a year before anyone can legally sell recreational pot in Maine.

Jake Bleiberg reports:

If approved as is by the council, the 11th-hour measure would enact a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana shops and social clubs in Portland when the law passes, according to a draft of the regulation provided by the city. The proposed ordinance comes as a response to ballot Question 1, which would legalize pot for recreational use by people 21 and up.

But under the timeline laid out by Question 1, those looking to sell pot might have to wait more than six months anyway.

If the ballot measure is approved, it wouldn’t take effect until 30 days after the governor certifies the election results. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry then has up to nine months to write regulations for the new industry. Thirty days after that, the department would open up the 90-day application period, during which would-be marijuana retailers could apply for a sales permit.

Jake is at the meeting now, and will have the results of the vote. Follow him on Twitter here.

In other news

Clearing the smoke on Maine laws related to student voting — Christopher Cousins breaks down the law after Gov. Paul LePage today “warned college students from outside Maine who are studying here that registering as a Maine voter comes with strings attached.”

Help BDN monitor and report voting problems on Election DayThis Election Day, the Bangor Daily News has joined more than 250 newsrooms around the country to monitor and investigate reports of voting problems or irregularities at the polls. This project, called Electionland, has been organized by the news nonprofit ProPublica.

Here’s how it works: Voters in Maine are encouraged to report incidents — voter intimidation, long wait times, disqualifications, machine breakdowns, etc. To report a problem:

— Text “Electionland” to 68966, or

— Fill out the online reporting form.

Take a look inside Bunker Brewing’s new Libbytown space — The grand opening is Friday at noon. Kathleen Pierce got an early look at the brewery’s much-bigger space.

Your election guides

Here’s everything Portlanders really need to know about this election — This includes municipal and local state house races.

Everything Mainers need to know before they vote — This includes referendum questions and other statewide races.

The Big Idea

The Ocean — Here’s 11 hours of the gentle sounds of the ocean. You deserve it.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.