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Rockland Council set to vote on marijuana store cap, lottery

By Stephen Betts | Feb 04, 2020

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will vote next Monday, Feb. 10, on a proposed city law that would cap the number of retail marijuana stores at six.

The four businesses that have already received planning board approval for medical marijuana businesses would get the first shot at four of the six retail slots.

Any remaining retail slots would be awarded based on a lottery system.

The Rockland City Council reviewed the proposed ordinance at its Feb. 3 meeting. A preliminary vote is set for Feb. 10.

The proposed law would cap the retail stores to six and no more than three could be located in any single zone -- such as commercial, or plaza.

Councilors again briefly debated about allowing stores in the downtown. Councilor Ed Glaser pointed out that voters opposed downtown retail marijuana stores in a non-binding referendum. He said if that is to be changed it should be done at the ballot box.

Voters said no in a 2018 referendum allowing adult recreational marijuana stores in the downtown by a 1,610 to 1,282 tally (56 percent to 44%). But they said they would support recreational marijuana stores elsewhere in the city by a 1,670 to 1,240 tally (57% to 43%).

Mayor Lisa Westkaemper said she has heard from some citizens that they have qualms about a lottery system. She said those members of the public say a lottery would equalize something that maybe should not be equalized since not all businesses, business plans, products and liabilities are equal.

Under the state law, municipalities through their legislative bodies must vote to opt in for retail stores to be allowed in a particular community.

The Rockland Planning Board has approved four medical marijuana stores.

Scrimshaw at 500 Main St. received approval in May 2018 from the board. The store opened last year.

Highbrow at 696 Main St., the former site of a C.N. Brown gas station, was approved by the board Oct. 1, 2019.

Dirigo Medical CBD at 270 Park St., which had formerly been used by Midcoast Children's Services, and before that, by Grace Bible Fellowship, got approval Oct. 15, 2019.

On Nov. 19, 2019, the board approved the proposal by Nancy Shaw of Swanville and her business New World Organics at the former Bicknell Manufacturing building on Lime Street.

Maine residents chose to legalize recreational marijuana in a 2016 public vote. It has taken three years for rules to be developed.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Gayle Murphy | Feb 04, 2020 15:27

Look at all of you liberal, progressives extolling the virtues of capitalism. What would your heroes Bernie and AOC think?

John Murphy

Posted by: Joseph Steinberger | Feb 04, 2020 15:03

Sadly, Kendall, the city can limit chocolate factories, or taxis, or bars, etc. It is an old vice of government, long sanctioned in the law. Adam Smith complained about it. It creates lucrative privilege for a few, and prevents others from entering into competition. The wealthy weavers' guilds used to send thugs into the countryside to enforce their government-granted privilege by smashing the looms of poor peasants who were struggling to survive.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 04, 2020 08:34

This move by the council appears to be in opposition to the city's motto about promoting business in Rockland. This move may also open the door to legal action against discriminatory business practices by the city. For example, does the city plan to limit how many chocolate factories will exist in Rockland? How many boat building businesses? How many restaurants? How many movie theatres, etc., etc.,?

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Feb 04, 2020 06:11

Most offen the councils actions give me whiplash. Come here go away, come here go away. The only thing the councils hasn't put a cap on is the budget. Now there's a thought

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