Standards for medical marijuana facilities approved

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WESTBROOK — The Planning Board has approved standards for medical marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries in Westbrook.

The board on Tuesday unanimously approved the amendment to the Land Use Ordinance after months of workshops. The ordinance still needs to go before the City Council for final approval.

Linda Gain, the Planning Department’s office coordinator, said the City Council likely won’t discuss the ordinance at its Jan. 8 meeting because the city planner is still finalizing amendments. Gain said the current ordinance language available on the city website is draft only and may slightly change by the end of next week.

The Planning Board held workshops on medical marijuana facilities in June, August and October. On Jan. 2 it held a public hearing on the issue, but no one from the public spoke. 

If approved by the council, the ordinance would make medical marijuana facilities a conditional use in two parts of the city. Dispensaries would be permitted in the Gateway Commercial District, and caregiver cultivation facilities, or growing facilities, would be permitted in the Industrial District.

Additionally, home growing would be permitted in any qualified patient’s or licensed caregiver’s residence in any base or overlay zone.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities won’t be permitted within 500 feet of licensed day care centers, churches, schools, libraries, residential lots, athletic fields, parks, playgrounds, halfway houses or rehabilitation centers. The ordinance also states that the city can only have one medical marijuana dispensary.

To apply to operate a dispensary or growing facility, the applicant would have to have a license from the state through the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program. They would also have to have their security measures inspected and approved by Westbrook Police. Security systems would have to include 24/7 interior and exterior cameras, alarm systems on all doors and windows, a locked safe indoors, exterior lights, and deadbolts on all exterior doors.

The facilities could only operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and must not display any signage with the word “marijuana” or any marijuana imagery. No operations should be visible from outside of the building and all odors must be contained in the building.

Gain said it is not yet known when the City Council will consider the ordinance.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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