Rockland medical marijuana moratorium approved

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 9:45pm

ROCKLAND – The four people who’ve requested applications for medical marijuana retail distribution in Rockland just need to ‘hang tight,’ according to City Council member Amelia Magjik.

In a special session, Monday, Aug. 20, Rockland City Council members voted three to two to establish an emergency 60-day moratorium on medical marijuana production facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, medical marijuana testing facilities, and medical marijuana manufacturing facilities.

Councilors Ed Glaser and Adam Ackor both voted against the measure. However, Councilors will return to the same issue during the September 10 meeting in order to consider a 180-day moratorium in Second Reading.

According to the amendment, “The City's existing ordinances do not provide an adequate mechanism to regulate and control the location and operation of Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities and are inadequate to prevent serious public harm that could be caused by the development of such facilities in the City.”

Therefore, Ordinance Amendment #27 Emergency Medical Marijuana Moratorium is enacted as an emergency ordinance in order to meet the public emergency created by the scrivener's error in the current Zoning Ordinance and the 90+-day delay of the effective date of the Act, which combined and on their own have created a rush by applicants to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the current Zoning Ordinance and the grandfathering language in the Act in an attempt to establish medical marijuana stores and other facilities in the City, which are not permitted uses and will not be permitted unless and until the City Council votes to specifically permit such uses in the City.

While this moratorium is in effect, no permits will be distributed, nor will any previous permits be honored as they relate to retail, commercial, processing, manufacturing, industrial or similar.

Many municipalities across Maine are in the same situation as Rockland, according to City Attorney Mary Costigan, during the meeting, as they rush to amend their own ordinances and decide whether to opt in.

Before July 9, when the State law was voted upon, ‘stores’ was a gray area, according to Costigan. Now, however, stores are specifically recognized at the State level, yet not at in Rockland.

When enacting the initial medical marijuana ordinances, Council members did not intend “to permit facilities for the sole purpose of distribution of medical marijuana, i.e., medical marijuana stores,” according to the emergency amendment. Placing an "and/or" prior to the word "distribution" has led to a misinterpretation of the Zoning Ordinance, which has then led to further concerns regarding public safety.

Also mentioned during the Council meeting is the State’s elimination of the maximum number of patients a caregiver can serve. Rockland’s current ordinance allows five.

Magjik told the audience that she sponsored the initial set of marijuana ordinances as a way to promote new business, and that the moratorium allows time to figure out how to realign the City ordinances with the new State laws.

Councilor Glaser saw no reason for a moratorium. Eliminating the word ‘or’ from the ordinance is relatively easy to do, as Costigan agreed, and the Council had already agreed to the initial ordinances.

However, Mayor Valli Geiger proposed the moratorium in response to the new opt-in option for each city, which would require a new ordinance amendment stating that desire.

“I am simply looking to preserve our ability to decide whether we want to opt in or opt out,” she said. “And if we opt in, in what way do we want to opt in?”

 

Read the entire Emergency ordinance below.

 

EMERGENCY ORDINANCE Establishing a Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, Registered Caregiver Retail Stores, Registered Dispensaries, Medical Marijuana Testing Facilities, and Medical Marijuana Manufacturing Facilities

WHEREAS, the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, codified at 22 M.R.S.A. Chapter 558-C, authorized primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for qualifying patients and to receive monetary compensation for costs associated with assisting qualifying patients; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature enacted the Act to Amend Maine's Medical Use of Marijuana Law (the "Act") on July 9, 2018; and

WHEREAS, the Act specifically gives municipalities the authority to regulate registered caregivers, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities; and

WHEREAS, the Act prohibits municipalities from authorizing new registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities after the effective date of the Act unless the legislative body has voted to adopt or amend an ordinance or approve a warrant article allowing registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities or manufacturing facilities; and

WHEREAS, the Act specifically authorizes the continued operation of registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities that are operating with municipal approval prior to effective date of the Act; and

WHEREAS, the Act will become effective ninety days after the legislature adjourns the 2018 Second Special Session; and

WHEREAS, the City of Rockland's Zoning Ordinance currently permits and regulates Medical Marijuana Production Facilities; and

WHEREAS, the Zoning Ordinance defines "Medical Marijuana Production Facility" as " a facility used for cultivation, processing, storage, and/or distribution of medical marijuana at a location which is not the medical marijuana registered primary caregiver's primary residence;" and

WHEREAS, the intention of the distribution language in the Zoning Ordinance is to allow incidental distribution of medical marijuana to patients at a facility with the primary purpose of cultivating or producing medical marijuana; and

WHEREAS, it was not the City Council's intent to permit facilities for the sole purpose of distribution of medical marijuana, i.e., medical marijuana stores; and

WHEREAS, there is a perceived loophole in the Zoning Ordinance created by a scrivener's error by the use of the words "and/or" prior to the word "distribution" that has led to a misinterpretation of the Zoning Ordinance in a manner that suggests medical marijuana stores are permitted; and

WHEREAS, the delay in the effective date of the Act, paired with grandfathering language in the Act and the misperception that the current Zoning Ordinance permits medical marijuana stores has led to an increase in applications for Medical Marijuana Production Facilities; and

WHEREAS, Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities raise a number of concerns related to public safety and welfare, including, but not limited to, potential adverse effects on neighborhoods, security of the facilities, and odors that may create a public nuisance or hazard; and

WHEREAS, there has been an increase in interest in Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities, particularly in locating such facilities in Rockland's downtown area, highlighting the concerns related to public safety and welfare; and

WHEREAS, the City's existing ordinances do not provide an adequate mechanism to regulate and control the location and operation of Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities and are inadequate to prevent serious public harm that could be caused by the development of such facilities in the City; and

WHEREAS, the City needs a reasonable amount of time to determine the implications of registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities and to develop reasonable regulations governing their location and operation; and

WHEREAS, the City needs a reasonable amount of time to amend the regulations governing the location and operation of Medical Marijuana Production Facilities in order to clarify the purpose in light of the amendments to the medical marijuana laws; and

WHEREAS, during the period of this Moratorium, the City will work on amending the land use regulations concerning Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, and will work on creating land use regulations concerning registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities;

NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority granted to it by 30-A M.R.S.A. § 4356, and pursuant to City Charter Section 213, the City of Rockland hereby ordains as follows:

1. EMERGENCY DECLARATION. This Moratorium Ordinance is enacted as an emergency ordinance in order to meet the public emergency created by the scrivener's error in the current Zoning Ordinance and the 90+-day delay of the effective date of the Act, which combined and on their own have created a rush by applicants to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the current Zoning Ordinance and the grandfathering language in the Act in an attempt to establish medical marijuana stores and other facilities in the City, which are not permitted uses and will not be permitted unless and until the City Council votes to specifically permit such uses in the City.

2. DEFINITIONS. As used in this Ordinance, the following terms have the following meanings as defined in the Rockland Zoning Ordinance:

"Medical Marijuana": means marijuana that is acquired, possessed, cultivated, manufactured, used, delivered, transferred or transported to treat or alleviate a qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition.

"Medical Marijuana Production Facility": means a facility used for cultivation, processing, storage, and/or distribution of medical marijuana at a location which is not the medical marijuana registered primary caregiver's primary residence.

"Registered Caregiver Retail Store" means a facility or location in which a registered medical marijuana caregiver sell harvested marijuana to qualifying patients for the patients' medical use through a storefront.

"Registered dispensary" or "dispensary" means an entity registered under section 2428 (or new section 2425-A) that acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, transports, sells, supplies or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials to qualifying patients and the primary caregivers of those patients.

"Marijuana testing facility" means a public or private laboratory that:

A. Is authorized in accordance with section 2423-A, subsection 10 to analyze contaminants in and the potency and cannabinoid profile of samples; and

B. Is accredited pursuant to standard ISO/IEC 17025 of the International Organization for Standardization by a 3rd-party accrediting body or is certified, registered or accredited by an organization approved by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

"Marijuana manufacturing facility" means a facility or location used for the production, blending, infusing, compounding or other preparation of marijuana concentrate and marijuana products, including, but not limited to, marijuana extraction or preparation by means of chemical synthesis.

3. APPLICABILITY AND PURPOSE. This moratorium shall apply to Medical Marijuana Production Facilities, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities, as defined above, which are proposed to be located within the City of Rockland. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in 1 M.R.S.A. § 302 or any other law, this Ordinance applies retroactively to any application for a building permit, certificate of occupancy, site plan or any other required approval relating to the establishment or operation of a proposed Medical Marijuana Production Facility, registered caregiver retail stores, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities, whether or not such application had become a "pending proceeding" as defined in 1 M.R.S.A. § 302 on or after July 9, 2018. Properties that are currently permitted generally as retail, commercial, processing, manufacturing, industrial or similar shall not be permitted to operate as a Medical Marijuana Production Facility, registered caregiver retail store, registered dispensary, marijuana testing facility or manufacturing facility and shall only be permitted by the City in accordance with future land use regulations. This moratorium does not apply to any Medical Marijuana Production Facility for which all Planning Board approvals were received prior to July 9, 2018.

4. PROHIBITION. During the time this Ordinance is in effect, no official, officer, board, body, agency, agent or employee of the City of Rockland shall accept, process or act upon any application for any approval, including but not limited to a building permit, certificate of occupancy, site plan review, conditional use, or any other approval relating to the establishment or operation of a business or operation of a Medical Marijuana Production Facility, registered caregiver retail store, registered dispensary, marijuana testing facility or manufacturing facility. No person shall establish or operate a new business or operation of a Medical Marijuana Production Facility, registered caregiver retail store, registered dispensary, marijuana testing facility or manufacturing facility within the City of Rockland without complying with whatever ordinance amendments the City may enact as a result of this Ordinance. This prohibition does not apply to Medical Marijuana Production Facilities that have received all necessary Planning Board approvals prior to July 9, 2018 or to activities of registered medical marijuana caregivers that occur within a caregiver's residence or the residence of a qualifying patient.

5. ENFORCEMENT, VIOLATION AND PENALTIES. This Ordinance shall be enforced by the Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Rockland. Any person who violates Section 3 of this ordinance shall be subject to civil penalties and other remedies as provided in 30-A M.R.S.A. § 4452.

6. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Ordinance takes effect immediately upon adoption and shall expire on the 61st day thereafter, unless earlier extended by the City Council.

7. SEVERABILITY. Should any section or provision of this Ordinance be declared by any court to be invalid, such a decision shall not invalidate any other section or provision.

Sponsor: Mayor Geiger

Originator: Mayor Geiger

 

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com

 

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