WINDHAM — Proposed ordinance changes regarding marijuana uses and licensing drew opposition from residents and business owners at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

The proposals stem from a June council meeting, where councilors completed a marijuana flow chart exercise with attorney Kristin Collins of law firm Preti Flaherty, which represents the town. They discussed their opinions on various marijuana enterprises.

The council is working out details of ordinances for marijuana businesses. File photo

Since then, Planning Director Amanda Lessard explained Oct. 22, she has gathered input from staff and worked with the town’s Retail Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Establishments Task Force to create a draft of the ordinance language.

The changes — including the creation of a new licensing ordinance and amendments to the town’s land use ordinance and shoreland zoning ordinance — create a licensing process for marijuana businesses, establish performance standards, define locations in town for the businesses and set down the application and review process for obtaining a license.

All businesses would be required to apply for a license through the town, which comes with an application fee ranging from $300 to $2,500.

Under the new rules, six new types of marijuana businesses would be allowed, in various districts: cultivation facility for adult-use, manufacturing facility for adult-use and medical, testing facility, caregiver retail store, medical marijuana registered caregiver and medical marijuana registered caregiver (home occupation).

Chairwoman of the Marijuana Task Force Maggie Terry said the group had some “issues” with the proposed changes.

She asked why marijuana testing facilities were limited to the Industrial and Enterprise Development districts.

“It does not make any sense,” she said.

Some councilors said they would support allowing testing facilities in a commercial district, while Councilor Donna Chapman expressed concerns about the smell.

Terry also disliked that the only uses that would be allowed in the farm zone would be medical marijuana caregiver and medical marijuana caregiver (home occupation).

Lessard said that although marijuana is a plant, staff decided to make “a new definition that addressed marijuana in a different manner so that it does not fall under agriculture.”

Dave Whitten, owner of Sticky Bud Farms and a member of the task force, objected to the proposal that medical marijuana caregiver retail stores be allowed only in one of the three commercial districts, calling it “ridiculous.”

“Expand your view of where it should be allowed,” he said.

Existing businesses would be grandfathered in and allowed to continue, even if they do not meet the new requirements.

Resident Larry Eliason recommended that the council consider the impact the changes might have on town staff.

Think about “what we have for resources to monitor and enforce,” he said. “Is policing these little things the best use of our resources?” 

Collins will incorporate the feedback into the proposed changes and bring it back to the council at a future, undetermined date.

Also on Tuesday night, the council unanimously referred to the Planning Board proposed amendments to the land use ordinance regarding the development of impact fees for open space and schools.

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