Rockland Council voices support for downtown pot sales

By Stephen Betts | Nov 01, 2019
Rockland has one approved medical marijuana store downtown at 500 Main Street.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council is scheduled to take a preliminary vote in December on a revamp of its marijuana laws to allow for retail sales.

It appears to have support for allowing sales downtown, despite a non-binding referendum in November in which voters opposed downtown retail sales.

The City Council met Wednesday night, Oct. 30 with City Attorney Mary Costigan to go over the proposed changes.

Mayor Lisa Westkaemper said the November 2018 vote was a narrow one in opposition.

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

Councilor Ben Dorr said if the city allows other places where other mind-altering substances such as alcohol are sold then he sees no reason to prohibit marijuana stores. He said alcohol causes more damage than marijuana over a lifetime.

He said he supports downtown retail marijuana sales.

"To do otherwise would be hypocritical," Dorr said.

Councilor Valli Geiger said at the time of the referendum, there was a great difference between medical marijuana and retail marijuana but that has changed. She pointed out that all someone has to do now is go into a medical marijuana store and go on Skype to get approval for a medical marijuana card.

"It's a distinction without a difference," Geiger said about medical marijuana stores and retail stores.

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

Under the state law, municipalities must vote to opt in for retail stores. The Rockland City Council has yet to vote on whether to allow retail marijuana stores.

The City Council will meet again Nov. 25 to review the proposed ordinance and a preliminary vote is scheduled for December.

Nicholas Westervelt, owner of Scrimshaw, the only approved medical marijuana store in Rockland, said things were going well and that his store employs 12 people.

Scrimshaw at 500 Main Street received approval in May 2018 from the Planning Board, and the City Council voted in August 2018 to issue a permit for the business.

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

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

Both Highbrow and Dirigo will both go before the City Council Nov. 13 to get their medical marijuana licenses.

Comments (4)
Posted by: James Clinton Leach | Nov 03, 2019 11:51

I could care less if the Council allows this, I’m somewhat discouraged that a vote was taken the Nay’s won, wouldn’t that mean no retail sales a 57% to 43 % result  is a fair margin but,  that doesn’t matter I guess  the opinion and beliefs of the Council rules not the Citizens. I don’t like that...

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 03, 2019 04:44

Mr. Mazzeo: 

Told a pastor once, "I'd come to your church if there wasn't so many hypocrites,"  His response was, "Come ahead. We've always got room for one more." Whoops! :)

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 02, 2019 08:15

And we know there are no hypocrites around here.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 01, 2019 13:00

I totally agree with councilor Dorr. I choose to maintain a natural high, yet respect others' personal choice and to allow alcohol and not pot would be hypocritical; as Ben states.

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