Rockland considers overhauling city marijuana ordinance

Oct. 30 workshop
Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:00pm

ROCKLAND — Rockland City Council has put a hold on further applications for medical marijuana production facilities while the City begins to create a new set of marijuana ordinances. The four entities that have applied for medical marijuana production facilities in Rockland prior to October 1 will be grandfathered as such. 

“For right now, we are effectively gutting what we have on the books so we can start fresh and saying this is what it looks like without any of the rest of the previous work,” said Councilor Ben Dorr.

Yet, with one production facility in Rockland already up and running, and another one already approved, starting over entirely from scratch is not an option.

Headed by Councilor Ed Glaser, councilors will convene for a workshop, Oct. 30, at 5:15 p.m., in Council Chambers, to create a new, all-encompassing marijuana ordinance that would include retail stores and medicinal stores, “as well as all of the other possibilities that the state allows us for marijuana,” said Glaser, during the October 7 agenda-setting meeting.

For several years, Rockland has been following a medical marijuana production ordinance model, as has many other municipalities, according to City Attorney Mary Costigan. However, Maine state law makes no mention of production facilities, it only refers to cultivation, the growing of marijuana.

Within yet-to-be-written ordinances, references to medical marijuana production facilities will be omitted in every zone, and terminology for retail and stores, previously referenced as secondary and incidental, will come to the forefront. 

“People are going out of their way and using pieces of property that need to be bigger than [owners] might need if they are just making a retail store,” said Glaser. “What we are doing, by letting this linger as long as it has, is forcing people to go through a lot more work just to get what they want in the long run. It puts more work on the staff time, and work on committee time.”

However, gutting all previous ordinances and starting fresh when entities have already been established using previous guidelines becomes “a little sticky,” according to Glaser. 

“Some of these are in places that we wouldn’t have allowed, or we wont be allowing other uses. We are stuck with them, we can’t get rid of them if they stay what they are. If they want to change to just purely retail medicinal or a retail ...whatever...adult use, they may not fit in that area.”

The rewrite will allow for some accommodation for cultivation, though maybe not in the same zones, according to Costagan. 

So what to do with the four grandfathered medical marijuana production facilities?

“I imagine, because it is happening elsewhere, people are getting production facility permits, not because they forever want to do a production facility, but they want to turn it into a store later,” said City Attorney Costigan. “So, it has to be clear that they are grandfathered for the purpose of a production facility. If they want to become a store, it has to be allowed in the zone.... and they have to apply for it. They can’t just close as a production facility one day and open as a store the next day.”

 

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com