TOPSHAM — Medical marijuana caregivers Rick Chiaravelotti and Kristie Small have grown medical marijuana at 605 Lewiston Road for the past four years and now hope to open a medical marijuana store in the building.

Formerly the home to a retail pharmacy company, Chiarvelotti said the 5,700-square-foot building has provided plenty of space to grow their medical marijuana. He doesn’t expect to need more space right away. However, he is asking for a cultivation license from Topsham selectmen that would allow him a larger growing area of 2,000 to 7,000 square feet. He will also have to get a cultivation license from the state.

Chiaravelotti said the only thing that would change is he’d be opening a medical marijuana retail store with a separate license he’s asking Topsham selectmen to grant on Thursday.

Under Topsham’s rules, the tier 3 cultivation licenses are capped at two. The town has licenses for four cultivation sizes, each capped at two. One went to Sundog Caregiving early last month allowing up to 60 plants in a 500-square-foot space at 248 Augusta Road.

When Topsham voters approved a medical marijuana business license program in May 2019, they also limited the number of medical marijuana stores to two townwide. Highbrow, located in the Topsham Fair Mall since 2017, was granted the first of those two licenses in December.

That could be a benefit if Higher Living gets the second license, Chiaravelotti said, as there will be less competition. Driving from Topsham down Route 196, “I probably go by five stores before I hit Lewiston,” he said.

New stores draw new potential customers who want to see what you have, Chiaravelotti said.

He and his business partner chose the building four years ago for its convenient location along the heavily traveled Route 196. It also offers discretion, he said, which was important to him because there is still a stigma around marijuana use.

The medical marijuana store will sell medical marijuana, oil, edibles and other products made from their plants to medical marijuana customers. Chiaravelotti said they send their marijuana trim to other processing companies who make the products for them.

“It would be nice if I could see 25 people a day come through here,” he said, once the store opens.

Chiaravelotti said he’s been planning to open the store for two years but waited for the town to adopt rules regulating them. His focus has always been on medical marijuana but should the town opt to allow recreational marijuana businesses in town, he anticipates he’d also enter that market. It’s one of the reason’s he’s applying for the cultivation license should he want to expand.

The state rolled out its recreational marijuana business license program in early December. It’s unclear if Topsham will allow recreational marijuana retail. In a series of non-binding questions put before Topsham voters in November 2018, voters supported medical marijuana retail and growing marijuana commercially. When it came to recreational marijuana there were 2,631 votes against it and 2,485 for.

“Until public opinion changes, I don’t think you’d see a change in public policy,” said Town Planner Rod Melanson.

 

 

 

 

 

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