The Portland City Council on Monday postponed a vote to establish zoning rules for marijuana-related businesses.

The postponement came at the request of City Councilor Belinda Ray, who planned to offer two amendments but missed the meeting because of an illness. The council rescheduled the vote for Feb. 20.

Before the postponement, councilors heard from four people about the proposed rules, including two attorneys.

Hannah King and Malina Dumas, of the law firm Drummond Woodsum, said the amendments would streamline the land use approval process and change setbacks from residential areas.

One amendment, co-sponsored by Ray and City Councilor Kimberly Cook, would change the setback from 200 feet from property line to property line to 300 feet from a residential property line to a marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facility.

Mark Barnett, owner of Higher Grounds on Wharf Street and a member of the Maine Craft Cannabis Association, a group of marijuana enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, spoke in support of Ray’s amendment to allow marijuana retail stores to sell products that do not contain marijuana. That amendment would only allow people 21 and over to enter a marijuana retail store.


Barnett has said he would like to add a line of marijuana products to offer alongside locally roasted coffee, organic tea and apothecary products.

Ray’s amendment would let “Portland’s dynamic and creative entrepreneurs have something other than a head-shop model,” Barnett said, pointing to the city’s thriving brewing and restaurant scene. “I think cannabis has the opportunity to be a big a driver of economic activity and culture of the city.”

Medical use of marijuana has been allowed in Maine since 2010. Portland became the first city on the East Coast to endorse recreational use of marijuana via a citywide referendum back in 2013, though it was a largely symbolic vote since police continued to enforce state law.

In 2016, voters statewide endorsed recreational marijuana and the state has been plodding its way through rulemaking ever since.

Zoning is just one step in Portland’s journey in rolling out marijuana retail stores. The city also must adopt an adult-use licensing and permitting process. A City Hall representative said the staff expects to present those recommendations to the Economic Development Committee or the full council in late spring or early summer.

Under the proposed rules, retail stores, dispensaries and small-scale marijuana caregivers would be allowed to operate in several business zones, including downtown, West Bayside and along the Forest Avenue corridor, as well as inner Washington Avenue and the St. John-Valley Street area, among other pockets.


Cultivation, manufacturing and testing would be allowed in industrial zones. And all marijuana-related activities would be allowed in the B4 zones, which are along portions of Warren Avenue and Riverside Street.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

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