Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Brunswick Town Council unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana storefronts. The moratorium will allow town officials to work out zoning kinks and coordinate with state retail marijuana legislation and local ordinances.

Director of Planning and Development Anna Breinich explained the matter is a zoning issue, adding the board is not against medical marijuana.

An application to establish a medical marijuana storefront on Bath Road was submitted to the planning board and is slated to be discussed at a Sept. 12.

Applicants Michael Goldstein and Melissa Roberts, of Stone Coast Cannabis LLC, said they have been treating patients for two- plus years with conditions such as cancer, HIV, Crohn’s Disease, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In a letter to the planning board, the applicants said having a small caregiver storefront at 220 Bath Road with give local patients access to affordable medicine in personal, and professional atmosphere.

The storefront would focus on selling marijuana flowers, edibles, extracts and concentrates. They estimate total annual revenue will be about $365,000.

After Stone Coast filed its application, the planning board asked the council take action that would allow the department six months to study potential regulations.

According to the proposed ordinance, as long as an application is filed before the moratorium effective date, the caregiver storefront is entitled to processing and approval of a special use permit assuming the standards of the ordinance are met. The current application is therefore grandfathered and allowed to continue through the process.

Councilor Sarah Brayman said she wants to make sure people are able to get their medicine in town, and not have to go to other towns for their prescription, but was supportive of allowing the planning department time to figure out zoning issues.

A moratorium on retail marijuana establishments has already been enacted in town.

Medical marijuana storefronts function like retail stores, but are service-oriented, and so they do not fit under any existing land use category in the town’s ordinances.

The storefronts also create certain concerns that do not apply to other types of retail and service uses considered when the current zoning restrictions were adopted. Planning staff has requested the council enact a moratorium to allow time to consider appropriate regulations for this new type of use.

According to a memorandum to the town from attorney Kristin Collins, under the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, registered caregivers are permitted to provide medical marijuana to five patients at a time. Certain caregivers in the state have been operating medical marijuana storefronts, which serve a rolling roster of qualifying patients on a walk-in basis.

Special permits are required for any use not prohibited in the town. The proposed business will occupy 500 square feet of an existing structure owned by Peter Arena. The application states one to two people will be employed by the business if approved, and will serve about 20 patients a day. The marijuana would not be grown at the site.

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