ROCKLAND – “Handing people last-minute things – not that there’s anything wrong with it — forces us to make a decision when we don’t have all of the information at hand,” Rockland City Councilor Ed Glaser said during the November 13 Council meeting. “I think that is what most of this is — forcing us to vote on things that are still being figured out beforehand.”
It was at that meeting that councilors were provided a five-minute recess to read proposed medical marijuana amendments submitted by Council member Amelia Magjik before voting on the material minutes later.
Read the updated ordinance in full in the attachment at the top of the page.
Though others at the table agreed with Glaser’s frustrations, the majority voted in favor of the amendments as a way to keep the ordinance alive and bring the entire medical marijuana issue to subsequent forums and workshops.
The first of these workshops will occur after a presentation by Ecomaine and Woodard and Curran engineering firm regarding Landfill Redesign, starting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 29 in Council Chambers.
Ecomaine and Woodard and Curran have been working with Public Services Director Dave St. Laurent on the transfer station’s facility upgrade and recycling program.
The facility upgrade and new recycling programs are concrete and tangible. Interpretation of medical marijuana’s impact on Rockland’s residential and financial future is harder to pin down.
Glaser, who is in favor of recreational marijuana, has wanted to table the entire subject, at least until lawmakers at the state level settles proposed recreational marijuana bills. During the meeting, he called the amendments premature.
In response, ordinance sponsor Councilor Amelia Magjik said: “I’m going to quote himself back to him. He said something earlier about the validity of the amendment process, ‘because we will be able to continue to amend it.’ It’s all a work in progress and I’ve been working on this for months now. I’m anxious to see it start to move forward.”
Those amendments included striking all reference to dispensaries from the ordinances, clarification of the marijuana extraction process, and zoning specifications.
Magjik handed the proposed amendments to the councilors just prior to the meeting. However, according to her, she’d spent time over the previous weekend discussing the ordinances with Councilor-elect Lisa Westkaemper, and Councilor Valli Geiger, respectively.
During the meeting, Geiger told council that she agreed with Glaser about passing the zoning ordinances prematurely.
“I agree that we need more public workshops,” Geiger said. “And so, while I’m going to vote for this in first reading, if we hadn’t had those workshops before second reading, I will vote to postpone it as well.”
Councilor Adam Ackor also supported passing the amendments through first reading in order to allow for future workshops. For him, medical marijuana growing and selling is a business that’s legal in Maine.
“We need to treat this business as we treat other businesses,” he said.
Ackor said he wants to allow the sellers the opportunity to function, as well as the opportunity for patients to get the medical resources needed.
“I think there is a lot of fear and misconception about what this is all about,” he said. “I don’t view any of this as something that will substantially change our city either for the negative or for the positive.”
The amendments, drafted and reviewed by City Attorney Mary Costigan, are as follows:
No medical marijuana production facilities shall be closer than 300 linear feet, in a measured straight line, from the boundary of a school, a drug free zone, city playground or church.
Two land uses instead of three. No limit to the number of medical marijuana production facilities allowed, with specifics, in a forthcoming amendment unless otherwise permitted, extraction is forbidden.
Five proposed zones for medical marijuana production.
Extraction would be allowed in specific zones. Extraction is defined as the process of extracting marijuana using solvents or gases.
Butane, which ups the danger factor quite a bit and has a danger of explosives, according to Geiger, would only be allowed in the waterfront zone, which is the Tillson Ave tip, and the industrial zone.
Alcohol and CO2 extraction would be allowed in the waterfront and industrial zones, as well as in commercial zones 1, 2, 3, and downtown. CO2 extraction does not carry a danger of explosion, but has a danger of asphyxiation, according to Geiger.
See previous Midcoast articles