The Rockland City Council wants to get ready in the event that marijuana distribution centers begin to sprout in the wake of revisions to the state’s medical marijuana law.

“I would like the council to be proactive,” Councilor Tom Molloy said in introducing an order at the council’s Jan. 4 meeting to have the Rockland Comprehensive Planning Committee consider ordinances to regulate such drug centers.

Molloy said it makes sense to take action now rather than wait for a distribution center to be proposed in Rockland. He pointed out the difficulties the city had when it tried to enact an ordinance regulating methadone clinics after such a clinic had been proposed.

The Turning Tide methadone clinic was proposed in the fall of 2004 for Park Street and the idea was met initially with opposition by the council and some citizens. Marches in opposition to the methadone clinic were held.

The council enacted an ordinance in January 2005 to limit sole source pharmacies, which covered methadone clinics, to only Rockland’s one mile of property along Route 90. Turning Tide later sought to develop the former Tuttle’s Shoe Barn on Route 1 at the municipal boundary with Thomaston but the council initially rejected that zone change.

Turning Tide filed a federal lawsuit and eventually the city settled by approving a zone change to allow the methadone clinic to operate at the Tuttle’s property.

A state committee is working on regulations for the operation of marijuana distribution centers. This follows voter approval in November 2009 to allow distribution centers. The initiative allows for the creation of nonprofit marijuana dispensaries, like those that exist in several other states. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services would issue identification cards to medical marijuana users.