STANDISH — The Town Council is inching closer to creating an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana establishments in town.

Town attorney Sally J. Daggett from law firm Jensen Baird Gardner and Henry in Portland presented councilors with a proposed framework to regulate registered caregivers at a Jan. 27 workshop. A registered caregiver as defined by the Office of Marijuana Policy is allowed 30 mature plants or 500 square feet of canopy. Under state law, unless a municipality “opts in” by creating their own policies regulating caregivers, caregivers only have to comply with state statute.

Daggett, working with Town Manager Bill Giroux, Town Planner Zach Mosher and Code Enforcement Officer James Paul, proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, which would allow the town to determine which zones caregivers could operate from, as well as site plan reviews and other safety enforcement measures, and a licensing scheme which would require all new and existing caregivers to register with the town.

There are 20 registered caregivers in Standish, Daggett said. State law protects the confidentiality of caregivers so municipalities without their own ordinances are only allowed to know how many exist in town, but not where they are located. The only way to find where the existing caregivers are located is through the licensing ordinance. Daggett said that all new operations would be subject to the zoning ordinance, and all existing would be grandfathered in  with the requirement that their operations are up to fire and safety codes within a set period of time, usually 12 months.

State law prohibits municipalities from limiting the number of registered caregivers in town, but Daggett said some sort of limits could be created by only allowing operations within certain zones, creating setbacks from “sensitive areas” such as schools and daycares and requiring a specific distance between each operation. The council is set to discuss a draft of the ordinances at a future date, likely later this month.

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