Hazy Hill Farm has applied for a license to operate a medical marijuana store at 482 Congress St. Green Alien Cannabis Company, however, is hoping to open a recreational marijuana store next door at 486 Congress St. The city is reviewing these application, as well as more than 40 others. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND – All the paperwork is in, but it will be awhile before applicants find out if they have earned a license to enter the retail marijuana market in Maine’s largest city.

Of the 43 applications for retail marijuana licenses, 38 are for recreational marijuana stores and five are for medical marijuana retail. The majority of the applicants are seeking sites in downtown Portland, but 17 are off the peninsula, mostly along Forest Avenue. The city has set a cap of no more than 20 total marijuana retail establishments.

More than 40 businesses have applied for licenses to operate a medical or recreational marijuana store in the city, including three along a stretch from 602 to 610 Congress St. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

“This is going to be a long process,” said Jessica Hanscombe, the city’s licensing and housing safety manager. “The applications are hundreds of pages. To go through all them individually and give it the attention it deserves takes some time. We are going through the disqualification section first.”

A deadline for completion of the application review process has not been announced. A council workshop is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28 to provide more information to councilors.

Hanscombe is working with Anne Torregrossa, associate corporation counsel for the city, to determine how many of the applications qualify based on requirements set by the City Council and how they fare on the scoring rubric. The rubric awards points to applicant based on certain standards, including being primarily owned by a socially or economically disadvantaged individual; being a Maine resident; having previous industry experience; holding a previous state or local business license or having caregiver experience.

Applications, Torregrossa said, can be disqualified because the business would be located in a zone that doesn’t permit retail marijuana businesses; exceeds the 2,000 square foot limit for retail stores; is less than 500 feet from a school; is within 250 feet of another marijuana business; the applicant has a past criminal conviction or has violated a local ordinance;  or if the application is missing required information.

Some applications for proposed stores in downtown Portland may be denied due to distancing requirements, Torregrossa said. Three are proposed between 685 and 701 Congress St.; three between 602 and 610 Congress St.; two between 482 and 486 Congress St.; two between 1 and 5 Spring St., two located at 442 Fore St. and 45 Wharf St. and a cluster of four in the block between Exchange, Market and Fore streets. Exact distancing will be measured, she said, before those applications are set for final review.

If two businesses are too close together, Torregrossa said the one that scores higher on the rubric would get the license. If two in close proximity score the same, a lottery will be used.

The city could soon have new rules as to how marijuana businesses are licensed.

In November, residents will have a chance to vote on a citizen referendum from David Boyer, of St. John Street, that, if passed, would reduce the allowable distance between marijuana businesses from 250 feet to 100 feet and remove the cap on the number of businesses that can operate in the city.

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