SANFORD — Those with a prescription for medical marijuana may soon be able to consult their caregiver and fill their prescription in an office in Sanford instead of in a parking lot or some other similar location.

The Sanford City Council is poised to hold a second reading to consider amendments to the current medical marijuana ordinance that would include allowing offices adjacent to growing facilities. The second reading and vote could take place when the council meets on July 9. The City Council meets at 6 p.m. in the third floor chambers at City Hall, 919 Main St.

A public hearing earlier this month that preceded the first reading drew no comment.

Councilors noted that creation of offices will come with a number of restrictions and would not constitute a retail establishment where consumers could walk in off the street to purchase medical marijuana.

Sanford Planning Director Beth Della Valle told the City Council that the consultations between caregivers and patients have to be by appointment, caregivers must keep a log, and the offices would be allowed only in the eight locations earlier designated as places where medical marijuana may be grown.

“No retails sales are allowed,” said City Manager Steve Buck. He pointed out that offices must be no larger than 400 square feet. “We didn’t want to create a retail location; there will be no drop-ins, no signs, and no open displays.”

Deputy Mayor Lucas Lanigan pointed out that the offices may have no identifying signs other than their street address.

Councilors say the amendment makes transactions safer for both parties.

“When we adopted the ordinance and made plans for licensing of different sites, it specifically precluded any business transactions taking place at the grow sites,” said Councilor Joseph Hanslip, a member of the council’s zoning subcommittee that reviewed the change, in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Councilor Robert Stackpole, also a member of the zoning subcommittee, said the state has changed its rules to allow providers to have offices at grow locations.

Absent an office, medical marijuana transactions often take lace in parking lots and other similar locations, Stackpole said.

“In my opinion, it’s public safety,” he said.

The state now allows medical marijuana growers to sell to other providers, Stackpole said,  bringing the potential of large cash transactions. If the ordinance is approved, he said, those sorts of transactions would be able to take place in an office location.

“We’re trying to allow (the medical marijuana providers) to do business in a safe manner but at the same time, not violate our prohibition on retail,” Stackpole said. “(The ordinance) is good from a public safety standpoint and a better way for the medical marijuana providers to do business. … it’s time to move the business part of this off the street and into a safer location.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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