SCARBOROUGH — Although retail is not being considered for adult-use marijuana in Scarborough, the Town Council is thinking about allowing cultivation and manufacturing licenses for recreational purposes.

There is also a proposal to amend the zoning ordinance for these marijuana businesses in the Rural Farm Districts.

On Jan. 8, the council held a public forum on the ordinance drafts, where some residents said they have an issue with the town potentially allowing recreational marijuana businesses in residential neighborhoods.

“I think it sends the wrong message to young people,” said Alyson Brystol of Bayview Avenue. “We have highly rated schools, highly rated athletes, our beauty and the natural resources we have. My point is that it’s a message that we’re sending to young people, that it’s an endorsement and with young people, especially those who are chemically susceptible, genetically, it’s so easy for young people to get addicted to something.”

Robert Troccoli, who said he lives near Higgins Beach, was wary of the council approving the ordinance.

“I bring a unique perspective because I lived in Denver for 25 years, and I voted eight years ago to allow recreational marijuana in Denver,” he said. “And I regret that choice now. We had a home in downtown Denver that we just sold, primarily because of marijuana and some other things that have happened in downtown Denver. But here’s my point: I know (former) Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and I think he would agree with me when I say that manufacturing and cultivation of marijuana should be nowhere near a marsh or the ocean or seacoast.”

Shelley Pelletier, of Snow Canning Road, said that she’s a medical-use grower who has never had a complaint about her business in Scarborough.

“All I am asking is for the council to consider giving me the chance to decide if I want to apply for the adult-use license and if so, then as any other business, I can economically grow as a business,” she said. “Voting no won’t get rid of me, won’t shut me down. All it will do is have me rethink my business plan.”

Thomas Falby of Burnham Road asked the council, “Where should an agricultural crop be processed if not in a rural farming zone? Farming is difficult enough without having dictates as to what can and cannot be grown. Doing so nears governmental control production. According to the zoning ordinance, the rural farming zone is meant to encourage the continuation of agriculture in these areas.

“I can bring up the effects of alcohol and the fact that our little kids run down the aisles at the grocery store and there’s alcohol everywhere, but no one seems to have a problem with that,” he continued. “I would definitely argue, medically, that (alcohol) has more of an effect than anything marijuana could ever do.”

Brystol argued that marijuana can’t be considered as a typical crop.

“We’ve heard over and over that the idea is to treat this like any other agricultural product,” she said. “But you don’t need the kind of security to grow tomatoes or strawberries that is being required for marijuana.”

Resident Richard Hayes asked the council to keep from expanding the marijuana business in Scarborough.

“Every day you read in the paper about drugs and what they’re doing to this country,” he said. “Marijuana is a drug, and I believe it is the first step in many cases to other drugs. I don’t believe that the benefits are there to warrant expansion.”

Even with bans on marijuana businesses in town, retail, cultivation or manufacturing, children can and will obtain the substance if they want it, said John Burke of Forecaster way.

“The reality is that the black market is here,” Burke said. “It’s been here for a very long time, and it’s only going to continue to get worse. … So simply doing nothing is supporting the unregulated marketplace that doesn’t care about our kids, doesn’t pay taxes, doesn’t follow any set of guidelines, and that’s really problematic.”

Town Council Chair Paul Johnson said that he and the other councilors will take everything that was said into consideration before making their decision. He said he agreed with at least a piece of what everyone had argued.

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