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Town enacts 90-day moratorium on retail marijuana businesses

Cape Elizabeth has enacted a 90-day moratorium on non-medical marijuana businesses in town, joining surrounding communities that are looking to stay the sale of recreational pot following a statewide referendum legalizing the practice.

The legislation, approved by a slim margin statewide, authorizes municipalities to regulate retail marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions, or to prohibit them. Town Councilor Patty Grennon said the moratorium would give the town time to understand the law and to consider potential impacts of marijuana businesses in Cape Elizabeth.

"What we'd like to do is just kind of hit the pause button," said Grennon, chair of the council's ordinance subcommittee, on Dec. 12, 2016. The 90-day window will allow the committee to "really look at the larger issue and impact on citizens of Cape Elizabeth," Grennon said.

Cape Elizabeth voters in the Nov. 8 referendum narrowly favored the marijuana legislation, 3,327 votes to 3,166.

The moratorium was enacted as an emergency ordinance by the Town Council on Dec. 12, taking effect immediately. Grennon said all of Cape Elizabeth's surrounding communities have enacted similar stays, Portland being the largest. "Because of this, there could be significant impact to Cape Elizabeth if we become the area destination for what is permitted with the marijuana and retail marijuana businesses," Grennon said.