The former Ruby Tuesday building at 55 Topsham Fair Mall Road will soon be home to Highbrow’s medical marijuana business, which will move from the mall suite it first opened in three years ago. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Topsham’s first medical marijuana store, Highbrow, is moving to the former Ruby Tuesday at Topsham Fair Mall, less than 500 feet from its current home.

Richelle Stacy, the business manager for Highbrow, said the caregiver store will only occupy part of the building. The kitchen will be used to make edibles such as cookies and candies, she said. Selectmen approved a medical marijuana retail license for Highbrow as well as a manufacturing license for producing edibles. Highbrow will start with three employees but expects to increase to as many as 10 employees, according to its application.

Highbrow opened in 2017 at 49 Topsham Fair Mall Road. After Ruby Tuesday closed in March, mall owner John Larson agreed to lease the building at 55 Topsham Fair Mall Road to Highbrow.

The remaining space in the building will become home to a Rock City Coffee Shop through a partnership with Rockland-based Rock City Coffee, Stacy said. The coffee shop will just be a regular coffee shop without any marijuana-infused products, she said.

The edibles made will be for recreation and medical use, she said, and can’t be consumed on-site.

Charles Doherty of Highbrow said he expects to reopen in the new location in April or May. A medical marijuana caregiver, Doherty said the new location will provide more space to work with medical marijuana patients, cutting down on wait times. The new edible production should also allow Highbrow to bolster its drink line, which is carried in more than two dozen stores now.

Doherty said Highbrow recently received approval for a recreational marijuana store in Rockland which should be open later this month. Its new marijuana recreational store in Bath should be opening in late January or early February. He expects to hire 30 to 40 new employees for these two new locations as well as in Topsham. Highbrow has seen steady growth at its Topsham store, Doherty said.

Jennah Godo, a prevention specialist who works with youth substance use prevention with the Brunswick-based health coalition Access Health, expressed concern at Thursday’s meeting about allowing a medical marijuana store in such a visible and highly traveled location. The former restaurant sits much closer to Topsham Fair Mall Road, the main access road, than the original strip mall that currently houses Highbrow. Godo stated that research shows that decreasing the perception of harm while increasing access to any substance, increases youth use.

“My ask for you is to really consider what role we want to play as a town in the promotion and advertising of a prime roadside location in our popular Topsham Fair Mall area with two different medical businesses under one roof,” she said.

Selectwoman Ruth Lyons said she’d rather see the former Ruby Tuesday building continue to serve as a restaurant or retail space rather than a marijuana business. She was the only member on Topsham’s five-member board of selectmen who opposed the licenses Thursday.

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