Shelley Pelletier and Marc Hill, pictured here in 2023, outside their Pine Point property that houses a number of cannabis businesses. They have made “significant efforts” to stop odors from escaping from the building, the chairman of the Town Council said. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

The Scarborough Town Council will vote next week on changes to the town’s cannabis ordinance designed to address consistent odor complaints from neighbors of cultivation facilities in the Pine Point and Pleasant Hill areas.

Among the amendments is enabling Scarborough police to verify odor complaints and enforce the ordinance, which says odors from a cannabis facility cannot exceed its property lines.

“Existing enforcement language, in effect, only has enforcement authority designated to code enforcement,” Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher said at a recent council workshop. “One of the changes we’re proposing is to expand that authority to the police department, the idea that they can potentially be more responsive and have more bodies to commit to that.”

Another tricky part of the current enforcement structure is that while it’s easy to determine what building is causing the odor, it’s difficult to pinpoint which business in it is responsible for it. Councilors will also consider June 5 whether to create a license for landlords of cannabis businesses to address that issue, but that measure likely would require a vote separate from the ordinance changes.

“In the event it’s a multi-tenant situation and we can’t happen to identify the specific license holder, we can apply the violation to the landlord,” Councilor Jon Anderson said. “I think it’s important to have that pathway if we need it from an enforcement standpoint.”

While the odor complaints may not be eliminated by the ordinance changes, councilors agreed they are steps in the right direction. Councilor Don Hamill noted the difficulty in verifying a complaint.


“It’s not like a sound where you can take a decimal meter and measure it,” he said.

Councilor Donald Cushing said some violations are more serious than others, and better verification and enforcement can help. He compared it to the nuisance of someone driving by blasting music on their stereo versus doing so parked outside of your house.

“We need to take into consideration the acute and chronic violations and find a way to differentiate them,” he said.

Shelley Pelletier and Marc Hill, landlords of 10 cannabis cultivation and manufacturing businesses at 10 and 20 Snow Canning Road, have worked with the council to address the complaints in recent years.

“I was on a tour of your facilities and I think everyone should know this: it looks like you have made significant efforts to curb any type of odors escaping your properties,” Council Chair Nick McGee told the two landlords at the workshop. “We’re in the middle of an ordinance change. We need to find a solution that works for enforcement; we want to verify if a complaint is real, and we want better enforcement mechanisms.”

Pelletier and Hill said they hired contractors to survey their properties, pinpoint air leaks and fix them. More than 20 air exchangers, at a cost of about $10,000 each, have been installed to help mitigate the odors, Pelletier said.


“There’s no way you can spend that amount of time, that amount of money, close up all those air leaks and it not make a difference,” she said.

At least 95% of air leaks on their properties have been fixed, Hill said.

“We haven’t had any verified complaints in a month,” he said.

Jill Cohen of Cohen Law Maine said in her experience working in cannabis law, Pelletier and Hill have gone above and beyond. Cohen represents the landlords of cannabis cultivation facilities at 3 and 4 Commercial Road.

“The only way to 100% know that odors are not going to emanate from the facility is a facility that’s built to suit, from the ground up, cultivation, ” she said.

Converting an existing building is more challenging, but not impossible, she said, and that her Commercial Road clients have been in operation since 2016 but they didn’t receive any odor complaints until 2023.

The town’s moratorium on new cannabis facilities will expire June 30.

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