HALLOWELL — Maine’s smallest city by total area expects to be one of the first to award local licenses allowing adult-use marijuana establishments.

City Manager Nate Rudy announced last week that the city will be accepting applications for retail cannabis cultivation, product manufacturing and testing facilities, as well as retail stores. The application period ends at 4 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Rudy said Monday the licenses would enable an adult-use operation, but any such establishment also needs a license from the state. While the state has not set an adult use policy, the 129th Legislature is expected to work on that licensing after it convenes on Jan. 3.

The applications, which must be renewed for any marijuana business – adult-use or medical – operating in Hallowell, will be reviewed after a public hearing prior to the Dec. 10 City Council meeting.

After that hearing, licenses for two downtown retail stores – adult-use or medical – will be awarded. Since the ordinance allows only two retail stores downtown, a lottery could be held if there are more than two qualified applicants. City officials said there are two people with downtown storefronts interested in securing licenses.

There are currently two medical marijuana retail stores in Hallowell — Cold Brook Cannabis on Greenville Street and the Cannabis Healing Center on Water Street. Both would have to renew their licenses this year, but Cold Brook Cannabis is not subject to limits on retail stores because it is outside the downtown district.

Cannabis Healing Center owner Derek Wilson told the Kennebec Journal in August that he would seek to make the switch to adult-use marijuana once the state’s policy is in place. Cold Brook Cannabis owner Jerrod Desjardins said Monday that he was unsure if he would want to make the same switch.

“It’s just whether or not I choose to serve (the) medical community,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in doing the medical side of it.”

Restrictions written into Hallowell’s ordinance, however, could prevent proprietors from waiting for the Legislature to approve licensing procedure. The ordinance includes a clawback provision that could take licenses away from licensees if they do not make progress toward opening within 90 days. One 180-day extension could be awarded by the code enforcement officer if substantial progress was made.

“If someone wanted to come and get one to open an adult-use store, they could,” Rudy said. But “it doesn’t make any sense for anyone to park a license right now.”

Other Maine municipalities – including South Portland – are moving forward on adult-use marijuana zoning and licensing.

Sam Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5666 or at:

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