Officials in Augusta and Hallowell are looking to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, now that such operations are allowed under Maine law.

Hallowell City Manager Todd Shea said Planning Board members have told him that a few property owners in the city have been approached by people who are interested in operating marijuana dispensaries.

In Augusta, Deputy Director of Development Matt Nazar said in a memo to Planning Board members, “It is reasonable to assume that Augusta would be an attractive location for a business to want to locate — the greatest population densities are in this part of the region, the regional hospital and cancer center will be in the city, and all roads really do lead to Augusta.”

So both cities are considering regulating the operations and locations of medical marijuana dispensaries.

In November, Maine voters approved allowing nonprofit dispensaries. State officials are working on how the law will be implemented. In the meantime, several cities and towns have been working to establish ways to regulate dispensaries.

At 6 p.m. Monday at Hallowell City Hall, information about the new law will be presented to councilors by Jane Orbeton, the Planning Board chairwoman. Shea said Orbeton is a nonpartisan state analyst who has been involved in drafting the medical marijuana legislation.

Councilors also could consider enacting a moratorium on dispensaries, to give the city time to write an ordinance regulating them, if they feel that is necessary, Shea said.

The Augusta Planning Board is taking up the medical marijuana issue by considering an amendment to the city’s land-use ordinance regarding marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities, which wouldn’t necessarily be in the same place. It meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Nazar said it appears that the state is moving toward approving eight medical marijuana facilities, with one in each of the regions into which the Department of Health and Human Services divides the state.

Augusta’s region is all of Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nazar said planners previously suggested regulating marijuana dispensaries and methadone clinics either as a single use or with similar regulations under city ordinances.

He said dispensaries probably would be licensed and regulated by the state and enable registered users to enter and buy products ranging from paraphernalia for delivering the drug to various forms of the drug including “smokables, edibles, tinctures, oils and topicals.”


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