ROCKLAND – Following several months of lengthy discussion, and acknowledging that some issues may be readdressed in the future, Rockland City Council members passed into law a series of local ordinances pertaining to medical marijuana. Not to be confused with recreational marijuana, which Mainers approved the use and sale of in 2016, Rockland councilors focused only on the sales and distributions of medicinal cannabis by caregivers.
Having stricken references to dispensaries and butane extraction from all amendments, the remaining ordinances go into effect 30 days following the Monday, Dec. 11 votes.
Some of the new policies are listed below.
Medicinal marijuana may be cultivated, processed and/or stored in the home of the qualifying patient or the home of the medical marijuana caregiver, and will be considered an accessory use. A facility that is not a primary resident of the patient or caregiver shall be referred to as a medical marijuana production facility and is considered a commercial use.
No medical marijuana production facility shall be located within 500 feet of the property line of an existing public or private school. This is a change from a previous amendment which included drug-free zones, city playgrounds and churches.
Alcohol and CO2 extraction will be allowed in a zones, including the industrial zone.
Medical marijuana facilities have the option to post a standard green cross (plus sign) on a white background in addition to their regular sign/logo as a way to offer standard identification on products sold.
New applications are reliant upon inspections by the Code Enforcement Officer, the Fire Inspector, the Plumbing Inspector, and the Police Chief. The City reserves the right to employ a licensed electrician, at the facility’s expense, to assist with code enforcement inspections.
The Code Enforcement Officer and the Rockland Police Department may enter and perform inspections without notice.
The qualifying applicant must be 21 years of age, and licenses must be renewed annually.
Though these ordinances will be effective by the end of January, some details concern Councilor Ed Glaser.
The industrial park property is at a premium, Glaser told fellow councilors; therefore, he does not want a pharmacy in that space.
“I think we want to have industries in the park,” he said. “We don’t want to turn that into a retail mall.”
Ordinance sponsor City Council Member Amelia Magjik reminded Glaser that the industrial park is where things are made. Such a production facility will not necessarily function as a retail facility.
“As a broad statement welcoming medical marijuana as a more open industry to Rockland, we thought it was equitable to put it in the industrial park,” she said. “And when we were entertaining notions of butane extractions, we figured that that would be more appropriately placed in the industrial park.”
Still, Glaser said zoning ordinances are put in place for a reason.
Glaser also questioned the legality of permitting the code enforcement officer and the police department to enter, and perform inspections, of the facilities without prior notice.
Councilor Adam Ackor didn’t agree, stating that the code office can request entrance at any facility anytime it is deemed necessary. If he is denied entrance, he can get the police department involved.
As for the police department unannounced inspections, Ackor said, “It looks onerous on paper.... But this detail provides them with the tools they need to basically be comfortable with the ordinance. This work here is very well crafted. A lot of work has gone into these ordinances, and I think that they are going to be fine.”
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