Members sought for committee

Waldoboro to formulate pot moratorium language

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jan 09, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Waldoboro Board of Selectmen Chairman Bob Butler, center, and Town Manager Julie Keizer, left, discuss formalities of the town's Land Use Ordinance while looking at the option of a moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries Jan. 8. Also shown is selectman Jann Minzy.

Waldoboro — At its Jan. 8 meeting, the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen voted to have its town planner formulate the wording of a moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries.

Max Johnstone explained that Dec. 13, 2018, LD 1539 went into effect, amending Maine's Medical Marijuana legislation, which now requires municipalities to "opt in" for any new medical marijuana businesses that come before them.

Current medical caregiver retail operations -- Highbrow, Cider Hill and Herbal Solutions -- are grandfathered, because they were approved by the Planning Board prior to Dec. 13.

New applications for similar businesses will not be allowed unless the town of Waldoboro votes to allow them to operate. "This does not affect growing for personal use," Johnstone noted in a memo to the selectmen.

Because of prior language in Maine's Medical Marijuana legislation, medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities are allowed under Waldoboro's Land Use Ordinance since 2013, it states.

"After speaking with the legal services department at Maine Municipal Association, it was determined that having the existing language in the LUO is deemed as 'opting in' for medical dispensaries and medical cultivation facilities," he continued.

The current language only allows one facility to operate in Waldoboro's Route 1 Commercial A district -- which does not include the corridor between Tucker Chevrolet and Moody's Diner.

"The infrastructure in this district greatly decreases the possibility of a dispensary and cultivation facility from operating," Johnstone explained, adding that he has not been contacted by anyone interested in doing so.

For clarification, the memo states, "Dispensaries and caregivers are different based on the scale they sell their products. Both can sell to patients and caregivers, but caregivers are limited to 30 plants while dispensaries operate on a larger scale."

Johnstone recommended two options:

-- impose a moratorium and adapt the language to be voted on at Town Meeting;

-- or form a Land Use Committee to look at and amend the ordinance.

The selectmen voted to have Johnstone develop the wording for a six-month moratorium to be looked at and voted on at the next meeting, Jan. 22. It also will be seeking members to serve on the committee.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Waldoboro to formulate pot moratorium language
Waldoboro Town Planner Max Johnstone answers questions from the Board of Selectmen regarding a possible moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries Jan. 8. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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