While many Maine communities have passed or are weighing moratoriums or bans on retail recreational marijuana businesses, the town of Houlton is enthusiastically encouraging recreational growers and retailers to make the move to Aroostook County.
Last month, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to designate a portion of its industrial park for use by retail recreational marijuana retailers. Council member Sue Waite-York says the town views Maine’s historic vote to legalize recreational pot as an opportunity.
“It was a no-brainer, really,” she says. “We are needing to get industry up in our area and broaden our tax base, and we felt that we would be left out of the loop once the other towns do come around. There will be big-time investors looking for places to not only do retail but grow the products.”
Waite-York says the town’s access to cheaper Canadian electricity will also serve as an incentive for energy-hungry growers.
“We also have an unusual advantage in that we have very low electric rates in our area, so that combined with the industrial park — that has been sitting for years up to our local airport, underutilized and underinvested — made it the perfect combination to put those two elements together to bring this business forward,” she says.
Town officials are still working on details of their new retail marijuana ordinance, including determining a fee structure to regulate the businesses.