There is a buzz in Bangor, Maine, regarding the mayor’s suggestion to start a city-run retail marijuana store.
Council chair Joe Baldacci announced the idea last week, saying it’d help the city keep control over the way marijuana is sold, while ensuring revenue remains local.
“Someone is going to sell it, and it should be done in the most responsible way possible,” said Baldacci.
Last November, Maine voters approved marijuana legalization. As a statewide policy is drafted by the legislature, local municipalities are now hashing out the details.
To be able to start a city-run shop, Baldacci said the council would need to create a non-profit that handles it. He said it would be the only seller of marijuana in the city.
“It would be the most boring marijuana retail establishment,” he laughed.
“But it’s important to keep control over a substance like this, to prevent minors and excessive use.”
Some Bangor residents say the notion appears “greedy”.
“I think marijuana retail sales should be open to entrepreneurs,” said Derek Porter.
Others can see the method by which the revenue would help the community.
“At least they’d make some money off of it, and maybe have our roads look better,” said Leslie Lambert.
Anti-marijuana advocates say they are able to see both sides of the problem.
“If sales or revenues are down, will we see a Maine city encouraging increased marijuana use by its own citizens?” asked Scott Gagnon, spokesman for the group Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities.
“Given a choice only between for-profit marijuana stores, or city run retail businesses, the latter would appear to offer more control over those aspects that present the most threat to youth specifically marketing and outlet density.”
Baldacci said Bangor councilors would have to wait a minimum of one year to see the way the state crafts its marijuana policy.
He said another factor is the federal government. If Attorney General Jeff Sessions directs the Department of Justice to more vigorously enforce marijuana laws, then Baldacci said Bangor would “back off” of the pot shop proposal.