WINDHAM — Town Councilor Rebecca Cummings resigned abruptly from the Town Council Tuesday in protest of an expected approval of an ordinance allowing recreational marijuana stores in town.


“I cannot be a part of a board that approves (marijuana,)” Cummings said, after she read aloud an email from a constituent who opposed the ordinance.  She then unplugged her microphone and walked out of the council meeting.  

The other councilors made no comment about Cummings’ departure before launching into a public hearing and a three-hour discussion on the proposed ordinance that ended with them postponing their final decision until March 10.

Cummings did not respond Wednesday to calls seeking comment.

Cummings has spoken against such an ordinance from the start. During an early council discussion in November, she noted that marijuana “is a schedule 1 drug at the federal level, and it is illegal.”

“I’m not going to support recreational (marijuana) in the town of Windham,” she said then.


Council Chairman Jarrod Maxfield said he was “completely shocked” when Cummings quit.

“I had no expectation that she was going to resign her seat last night,” Maxfield said Wednesday. “I understand her frustration. On a council we are a majority or minority, that is how government works. I wish she stuck it out because,  frankly, opposing views on the council make us better and get better solutions, but that’s her decision and I wish her the best of luck.”

After hearing from members of the public Tuesday night, councilors agreed to a number of amendments, including those about license lapses and renewals and application fees, to the marijuana licensing proposal drafted by attorney Kristin Collins, of the town’s law firm Preti Flaherty.

Maine residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016. Windham approved that referendum, 51.5% to 48.5%.

Windham’s proposed ordinance would allow 10 medicinal and recreational marijuana stores in town. If a retail store owner’s license to operate lapses, they will not be given the option to renew and will forfeit their license.

Other marijuana businesses, such as medical caregivers or cultivators, will only face an additional fee if their license expires and they want to renew it.


“The difference is that the store owner, in losing their license from letting theirs expire, loses their (storefront) slot,” Collins said.

Applicants will also have to provide a copy of an active state license and arrange an inspection with the code enforcement officer and town manager or designee before opening their business, and they can be subject to inspections for renewal of their license.

Changes to an application for a retail location must be approved by the town, and that retail operators will pay $100 to the city as an education fee, to go to youth education on drug abuse.

The council will decide March 10 how far a store must be from a school or hospital. The council has been looking at either 500 or 1,000 feet.

Councilors also voted to extend a moratorium on new marijuana cultivation licenses until the ordinance is passed. The moratorium, which went into effect Feb. 4, was initially set for 60 days.

Cole Hensler, a Windham 7th grader, spoke at the meeting, accompanied by some classmates and D.A.R.E officer Matt Cyr.


“I live on the border of Raymond and driving to school I see six stores headed there,” Hensler told the council. “I don’t think that’s the best. We (kids) see that and I see other kids starting to think it’s not very (harmful).”

Hensler was joined by Laura Morris, executive director of Be the Influence, a coalition aimed to educate about drug abuse.

“The truth is access equals use. If you increase access in the town, doesn’t matter what drug or substance, it increases youth use,” Morris said.

Ordinance supporter Maggie Terry, the owner of Legal Leaf in Winham, which sells indoor growing supplies and equipment, said the black market is the real issue for youth access.

“It’s important to understand the black market stuff out there isn’t tested, but at the store it’s safe. I’m proud of the kids for getting up and speaking, however,” Terry said.

Joel Pepin, owner of JAR Cannabis Company and SJR Labs in Auburn, which produces medical cannabis extracts, also spoke in support of the ordinance.


“We’re not voting to open the flood gates to weed. The reason we are here in the first place is due to the lack of action to step up to the plate and pass ordinances. Odor complaints and things like that, this ordinance will address it and give the town resources to go after people not following rules,” Pepin said.

The council must now find a replacement for Cummings, whose term expires in November. The council will appoint someone to the position after advertising the position and holding interviews, Maxfield said.



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