SANFORD, Maine — City councilors voted to repeal the nearly yearlong moratorium on medical marijuana growing facilities Tuesday evening, but not before a couple of them took the state to task about what they say is lack of oversight.

The moratorium was introduced on Sept. 8 as the city sought to clarify zoning and inspections for life safety codes. It was extended for six months on Feb. 16.

City Councilor Fred Smith suggested the moratorium continue so the city can look at the impact on other businesses. He said marijuana moratoriums in other York County communities are still in place, and that might mean Sanford may be looked to by growers as the place to be. He also noted there’s a statewide referendum Nov. 8 that seeks legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

“At no time did we talk about the impact,” said Smith about the city’s yearlong look at medical marijuana production. “The last thing I want is Sanford to be known as the marijuana growing city of southern Maine.”

Smith also had harsh words for the state on what he sees as a lack of oversight. While municipalities may regulate zoning and introduce life safety requirements — as it does for other businesses — municipalities cannot inspect the crop and other aspects of a medical marijuana growing facility.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said the city has to work with the state on regulations.

State Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio told the council that the Department of Health and Human Services has oversight on medical marijuana growing facilities.

“That was probably not the right decision,” said Mastraccio. She said if the recreational use is legalized through the Nov. 8 referendum, that would be the time for municipalities to weigh in with the state Legislature.

“Make sure you’re there,” Mastraccio said.

City Manager Steve Buck said the state reaps licensing fees from growers. He said growers tell him the state is not doing the inspections they are tasked to do.

“The growers say they’ve not seen anyone from the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Buck. “No one is checking. If you’re overproducing, no one is checking.”

Buck pointed out that landlords whose buildings have been empty at $2 a square foot are now being offered $6 a square foot.

Smith said local businesses are being affected. Without being specific, he said some businesses that lease space are being forced out because landlords are intending to lease space for medical marijuana growing operations.

City Planner Beth Della Valle said she’s been approached by one landlord looking to lease his entire building, had inquiries from two people in a rural zone and a Realtor earlier this year said he had a potential client “in the wings.” However, she said so far no applications have emerged.

“We’re not overwhelmed, but there is some pent-up demand,” Della Valle said.

Councilor Joe Hanslip said Smith’s bid to extend the moratorium to gauge impact on business doesn’t meet the standard for which the moratorium was originally introduced.

“I hear you, but I don’t think we can postpone it,” said Hanslip. “I don’t think we can use this moratorium as a tool to protect business, and would we be having this conversation if it were widget factories coming in?”

Buck, the city manager, agreed. He said if the council decides it wants to pursue a new moratorium, it can approach legal counsel with its ideas, though there was no move to do so Tuesday evening.

The five council members present unanimously approved the repeal. Councilor John Tuttle and Mayor Tom Cote were absent.

Additionally, councilors asked Mastraccio to submit a bill to amend the medical marijuana laws “to account for its shortcomings.”