SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council approved amendments to the Scarborough Marijuana Establishment Ordinance on Aug. 18 that will incorporate odor mitigation requirements and a change in the licensing renewal process.

The amendments will affect medical and adult-use marijuana cultivation, manufacturing or testing establishments, as Scarborough does not permit storefront or retail licenses for marijuana businesses.

Councilors first looked at the amendments on July 21, after the Scarborough Ordinance Committee had approved them as recommendations in June.

Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher said changes to the ordinance that were proposed included adding implementation of a mechanism for mid-license changes, allowance of administrative review for license renewals and the implementation of odor mitigation standards.

One of the most significant points of discussion throughout the process has centered around odor mitigation standards, specifically related to marijuana cultivators, with abutters of these businesses voicing concerns, he said. The town hired a consultant who released an odor mitigation report, offering suggested amendments.

“We adopted those changes and implemented them for all license holders to be subject to,” Gallagher said.

Since last September, when permitting began in Scarborough, a number of applicants were looking to make small changes to their existing licenses, Gallagher said. Due to this, one of the amendments will allow license holders to be able to go through a system to make such changes.

The last significant amendment was a way to let town staff approve license renewals without applicants having to go through the Town Council, making the process smoother, Gallagher said. The fee for a mid-license change will be $150.

“We’re proposing to change the ordinance to allow for administrative review for renewals,” Gallagher said. “All application renewals are renewed on an annual basis. We would like to see the council implement a change where as long as there’s no substantive changes to the application. Staff can simply review it and grant the license renewal.”

Licensing fees were a concern for John Burke, a resident on Forecaster Way, who said that he would like to see the council reduce them.

“They’re really problematic, and this is an excellent opportunity to fix it,” he said.

According to the ordinance, an adult-use or medical marijuana testing facility fee is $1,000. The fee for marijuana manufacturing products, medical and adult-use, is $2,500, and $750 is the fee for a medical marijuana cultivation facility license.

Councilors said they were in support of the amendments proposed, and although some voiced interest in changing licensing fees, added that the issue would need to be discussed in the future.

One of the rationales for high licensing fees was the adult-use aspect of the industry, which is not as evolved as the medical side, said Councilor Don Hamill.

Council Chair Paul Johnson said he believed $2,500 was too high of a fee for medical manufactured marijuana products.

“I’m in 100 percent agreement that I don’t believe a medical marijuana, not adult, but a medical marijuana manufacturing facility should be $2,500,” he said. “It’s a slow process. I will fight it a different day, but I do believe that there’s people operating out of their home, out of their home kitchen who have maybe six, eight different patients, and they’re caregivers, and in my mind this fee is a barrier-to-entry for those people.”

The proposed amendments are a good start to a changing industry, said Councilor Ken Johnson.

“This is going to continue to evolve, and so what we have today in front of us is really good and what we need, I think, for where we’re at,” he said. “So for tonight I’ll support it as it’s written, and I think it’s a good step forward.”

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