Can a Maine city sell pot?

Cities still grapple with pot regulation

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As cities and towns across the state work to figure out how to best regulate marijuana use, there is one idea that is stirring up some controversy in the city of Bangor.

City council chairman Joe Baldacci proposed the city become the only seller of pot within city limits at this week’s council meeting.

"They're desperate for money, so it's causing them to act in a way that's immoral,” Chris Ruhlin said.

Ruhlin who owns a tobacco smoke shop in downtown Bangor has long been outspoken on the issue. This time he says he has reached his wit’s end.

"The idea that they suggest that they're the only ones responsible enough to do it is insulting on many levels,” he said.

Baldacci feels it could be the best way to regulate the drug.

“The city would manage the sale of it,” he said. "It would be much easier for the police to make sure that this is all being done according to statute and that it's a clean process."

Talk among city officials has long centered on concerns of social clubs, fumes and the impact on children in the city – even in discussions prior to legalization. Still not all councilors agree with Baldacci.

“When he brought it up I honestly thought he was joking about it,” councilor Ben Sprague said, “The city doesn't really have the resources or the capacity to take on something like this, never mind the fact that selling marijuana is still illegal from a federal standpoint."

But something both councilors are trying to address is that millions of dollars in state funding is being cut to the city. With pot legalization, no tax revenue goes to cities and towns; only the state.

Baldacci said this might be a way to bring in revenue as well as regulate. It is something Ruhlin understands as well, but he said there needs to be a better way.

"We need to find a way so that the city can share in the revenue of this industry. It's absolutely critical,” Ruhlin said

This all as the state lawmakers have yet to set a standard that cities and town across the state can follow. In Bangor there is a public hearing Monday night to further discuss the issue.

Copyright 2017 WLBZ


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