FALMOUTH —  With the expectation that interest in businesses with ties to medical marijuana will keep on growing, the town is retooling its Retail Marijuana Committee to keep up with all the changes in regulations at both the state and federal level.

In addition, the committee will likely be asked to make recommendations on ordinance changes that would either allow certain types of recreational marijuana sales and services or to strengthen any protections the town may wish to put into place.

The Retail Marijuana Committee was originally created in spring 2017 after voters approved a statewide measure legalizing a limited amount of recreational marijuana use by adults during the November 2016 election cycle.

Since then, though, the committee, made up of councilors Hope Cahan, Claudia King and Aaron Svedlow, has been meeting less and less.

Now there’s interest in reviving the committee and making it a standing committee, with representation not just from the council but the community at large.

At their April 8 meeting, councilors debated the next steps, with some saying recreational marijuana is a top priority, while others said it’s not clear whether there’s any pressure on the town from people interested in locating a recreational marijuana-related business in Falmouth.

Councilors also discussed whether hemp should be added to the marijuana committee’s purview since the federal Food and Drug Administration recently announced that hemp cultivation would be allowed in the U.S., starting with the 2020 growing season.

When the referendum on recreational marijuana use passed three years ago, the state of Maine said it would begin creating new rules around the product, but they’ve been slow to come.

However, according to King, in summer 2018 the state said recreational marijuana-related businesses could only locate in municipalities that expressly opt in, otherwise it would be presumed communities did not wish to welcome them.

Last week King said that’s one of the things Falmouth must figure out.

Does it want to allow such businesses? If so, which ones? And, either way, does the town want to create regulations about how much marijuana can be grown on any given piece of property or inside any grow house, King asked.

The law currently allows adults to cultivate two plants for their own use, but there’s no limit on how many adults can collaborate to grow marijuana. In addition, King said there’s no limit on where the plants can be grown in town.

Cahan then raised the issue of hemp and whether the town wanted to allow cultivation of that plant, which has many uses, including weaving.

Councilor Amy Kuhn said she would like the marijuana committee to continue its work, adding recreational marijuana and hemp use are “an evolving area and the whole process is still unfolding. I think we should maintain some expertise to respond to opportunities and concerns.”

Council Chairman Caleb Hemphill agreed, saying that up to now the town has just been reacting when it should be proactive, especially since “this is something the town will be continuing to deal with.”

Councilor Aaron Svedlow said he wanted to hear from the public and was the first to suggest the creation of a standing committee to deal with marijuana and hemp issues.

The two residents who spoke both urged councilors to jump onboard and create a broader-based committee because we “already have issues happening right now. We can’t wait; it’s coming.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins


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