Voters at the annual town meeting March 17 passed a ban on recreational marijuana businesses and continued an ongoing, and often dysfunctional, discussion about how to fix town roads.

Many towns have passed or are in the process of drafting moratoriums on retail marijuana use in the wake of the 2016 legalization of the drug for recreational use. A minority of towns, including Knox, have decided to ban pot altogether.

Last year the town rejected a request from Hilltop Store to sell hard liquor, and some residents framed the short debate over the recreational marijuana ban as an extension of the town's stance on intoxication.

Planning Board Chairman Walter Thompson said 98 percent of participants in a straw poll supported banning marijuana businesses, while a public hearing on the ordinance was attended by just one person, a selectman.

"We don't have the foot traffic and we don't want it around," he said.

On the other side of the debate was Paul McCarrier, a resident of Monroe and advocate for adult marijuana use in Maine, who said the town would lose out by banning marijuana businesses. Under the legalization act, towns would split licensing fees for new marijuana-based businesses. McCarrier said that money would add up quickly and could be used to fix town roads.

He urged residents to distinguish between retail marijuana shops and social clubs — he understood opposition to these, he said — and a bakery making cookies to be sold in Belfast or Portland. McCarrier declined to say whether this example related to his own plans, but said he was considering doing something marijuana-related in Knox.

"Other municipalities are looking at this because they're looking at the money," he said.

McCarrier added that banning marijuana businesses would be a loss for electricians, plumbers and other businesses that marijuana-based companies would hire to build their facilities.

Garret Hubbard, a Knox resident and member of the Planning Board, said he likes alcohol but was not going to "sell my soul to the almighty dollar" by allowing marijuana businesses in town.

"I don't want the crap around," he said.

Regardless of how Knox voted on Saturday, pot shops would not have sprung up overnight. Recreational marijuana was legalized by voter referendum in 2016, but state lawmakers have yet to establish rules for the retail sale and taxation of the drug. Many municipalities have enacted moratoriums on permits for new marijuana-based businesses and social clubs to avoid conflicting with future state rules. Others, like Knox, have used the delay to draft "dry town" ordinances that prohibit any sales of the drug.

The lone exception is for medical use, which is allowed in all towns under the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 2010.

Personal use is another story. The 2016 referendum allowed cultivation for personal recreational use. Since then David Bearce, a Knox resident and medical marijuana caregiver for six years, said he's lost 30 percent of his business.

"If I can't cultivate for recreational use, I'll be out of business long before the state decides what to do," he said.

Bearce and McCarrier found few supporters as voters approved the prohibition ordinance by a show of hands.

Road repairs continued to be a hot topic in Knox, and figuring out how to do them an ongoing source of confusion and consternation.

Selectmen listed a number of culverts in need of replacement but could not say exactly how much the repairs would cost. Instead, they suggested residents come back for a special town meeting, as longtime Selectman Galen Larrabee put it, "after the end of the snowstorms, before the brush gets going along." Larrabee said this would to allow the selectmen time to get more information.

Several residents voiced concern that selectmen had authorized large expenses at special town meetings in the past when few voters were present. Others questioned why the town officials didn't get quotes in time for the annual town meeting.

Propelled by this frustration and some procedural lapses by meeting moderator Harold Emerson, residents rejected or skipped over articles worth $100,000 in road repairs, leaving themselves briefly without money to fix roads in the coming year.

The error soon became apparent, and townspeople circled back to approve $30,000 for patching potholes and other needed roadwork.

Basil Wentworth, who came up with the number by cutting the selectmen's request of $60,000 in half, chastised town officials.

"Get your act together and come in with a full plan with dollar amounts next year, not at a special town meeting," he said.

In elections March 16, Knox voters elected a new selectman, Lucas Bryant, who ran unopposed. Challenger John L. Wentworth defeated incumbent Regional School Unit 3 director Garret Hubbard, 33-19.

About 40 people attended the town meeting on Saturday, covering 40 articles in a little less than three hours. Several candidates for state and county offices spoke, including Jayne Giles, R-Belfast; Joseph Greenier, D-Stockton Springs; and Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, who are running for Maine Senate District 11. Maine House District 99 challenger April Turner, D-Freedom, and incumbent Sheriff Jeffrey Trafton also spoke at the town meeting.