LISBON – Lisbon could be getting another medical marijuana store, the town’s third in since Lisbon approved new rules allowing and regulating marijuana businesses last fall. 

Michael Scalia of Crystal Spring Healing Alternatives proposed a medical marijuana store at 1 Upland Road. The building, at the corner of Webster Road, is about 500 feet from Route 196 behind the Farwell Mill Apartments in Lisbon village. 

“This is a tremendous building that has been vacant for a long time,” Scalia said. “It’s going to be beautiful.” 

Scalia is seeking permits for a medical marijuana store, a dispensary, marijuana testing facility and a manufacturing facility, according to Lisbon Codes Enforcement Officer Dennis Douglass.

Board members will visit the site of the proposed store tonight at 6 p.m. and the public can weigh in on the proposal at the board’s 7 p.m. meeting. 

Scalia has a store in Auburn and another in Lewiston. He said Wednesday that he hopes to have a small processing operation in the building to make products for his stores and to grow enough medical marijuana to supply them.

“I could just do a grow out of there. I could put a storefront here if they allow me to,” he said. “I’m not looking to do anything to step on anybody’s toes.” 

The new store, if approved, is just over a mile by car from BBB Pharmaceutical Alternatives. That medical marijuana store opened along Route 196 in the center of town in April. In March, Lisbon Cannibus opened in the town’s industrial park, 1.6 miles from BBB and a half-mile from Lisbon High School. 

When the town created rules regulating medical marijuana, it didn’t cap how many stores would be allowed in town. Lisbon Town Manager Diane Barnes said in April that town officials focused on treating the businesses like any other.

“I think you let the market take care of itself,” she said at the time. 

Just how many stores have sprung up statewide is unclear, according to David Heidrich, spokesman for the state Office of Marijuana Policy. 

“The storefronts that have popped up around the state are relatively new and have not formally existed in law until LD 1539 went into effect in December,” Heidrich said in April, referring to the state law overhauling the state’s medical marijuana program. “As a result, we do not have a central registry of their location.” 

Auburn, where Scalia opened his first store, has had 43 medical marijuana businesses apply for licenses to operate there as of Aug. 8, the Bangor Daily News reported. 

According to a 2018 report on the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, the number of printed medical marijuana cards, including misprints, re-issuance or other anomalies, increased 9.8% from 41,858 in 2017 to 45,940 printed certifications in 2018. 

The number of individual caregivers dropped 18% from 2,993 in 2017 to 2,462 in 2018. A caregiver can hold up to five caregiver cards, and issuance of these cards decreased 7.2% from 11,398 in 2017 to 10,582 in 2018. 

The surge of medical marijuana stores seems to be a trend, said Angie D’Amours, president of Positive Change Lisbona partnership of businesses and residents working with local government to improve the town. 

Lisbon has seen a lot of business growth in the past decade, and D’Amours stressed that any growth in town is good, no matter the kind of business.  

“But given the fact that there are so many of these businesses, time is really going to be the differentiator here,” she said. “The ones that can provide great service, great price, great product – those are the ones that will be successful in the end and the other ones will fall by the wayside.” 

Scalia agreed. 

“It’s like any other business,” he said. “If you provide great service, you provide a great product, you’ll outshine the other guy. If people like me, they’re going to come to me.” 

Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill in late June that sets up a legal framework for recreational sales. The state Office of Marijuana Policy plans to start accepting applications for recreational marijuana business licenses by the end of the year. 

While the owners of Lisbon’s existing medical marijuana stores said they’d both like to sell recreational marijuana, Scalia hasn’t decided if he’ll make the switch.

“I just feel like I can serve the community better as a medical grower,” he said.

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