The Freeport Town Council will debate whether to allow cannabis cultivation and manufacturing, after Planning Board members Wednesday evening ironed out rules t0 govern where and how cannabis operations could operate in Freeport.

Wednesday’s public hearing came 16 months after a divided Town Council voted 4-3 to send the issue to the Planning Board rather than effectively close Freeport to cannabis cultivators.

While marijuana is legal in Maine, it’s up to towns to decide whether to opt in to several adult (recreational) uses, including cannabis retail, growing, manufacturing and testing. Bath and Brunswick have created rules allowing all three uses, but Freeport has not yet opted in and is not considering allowing retail stores.

Over the course of several meetings and workshops, the Planning Board developed recommendations that would limit growing and manufacturing to certain areas in Freeport and require a buffer of 1,000 feet between cannabis operations and schools and child care facilities and setbacks of 100 feet from residential buildings.

Peter Ingram, who owns one of two medical marijuana cultivation facilities allowed to operate in Freeport after being grandfathered in under previous state regulations, praised the proposed recommendations, which would allow his business to enter the recreational-use market.

“For my business, it’s really important to be vertically integrated,” he told the council. “As competition becomes more fierce in the Maine market, having the ability to control our inventory and create our own chronic for our stores is super important.”


Yet Wednesday’s hearing also featured a brief debate about the board’s recommended setbacks from residential buildings, a measure intended to both limit the number of cultivators in town and to ensure residents can avoid marijuana’s distinctive odor.

Despite pushback from one member of the industry, who felt the requirement was an unfair double-standard, the board ultimately decided cannabis cultivation warranted stricter land use policies than other types of businesses.

“This is a hot-button subject,” said board member Mitch Rouda. “This is not exactly the same as making cookies.”

This discussion echoed several 2021 Town Council meetings, during which several councilors and residents worried the spread of cannabis operations would clash with the town’s desire to become a vibrant community hub.

“The discussion that moved the issue to the Planning Board was far from a unanimous conversation,” said Councilor John Egan. “Most of the opposition was, ‘We don’t want that kind of business in our community.’”

David Stephenson, whose cultivation business was also grandfathered in under Maine’s old laws, pushed back against what he felt was an unfair stigma.


“If you look at all the most successful businesses in Freeport, they’re selling alcohol,” Stephenson told the council in August 2021. “You don’t see people going home and beating their wives after too many joints.”

The debate about cannabis’ role in Freeport will now return to the Town Council, which may still decide not to allow additional cultivation and manufacturing, Egan said.

“I do not think that the decision is made, so to speak,” he said. “I think there’s still quite a quite an opportunity, certainly, for public discussion.”

The council has not yet set a date to discuss the recommended land use standards or separate licensing requirements, which the town’s Ordinance Committee will likely play a role in drafting.

In 2021, gross sales of recreational cannabis in Maine exceeded $81.8 million, according to a report from student researchers at Colby College.

Comments are not available on this story.