Boothbay approves marijuana ordinance wording for November referendum

Posted:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 8:30am
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Boothbay selectmen changed the planning board’s proposed wording on a proposed recreational marijuana ordinance Aug. 9. Selectmen amended language regarding location and facility size for growing commercial marijuana.

Earlier this month, the planning board proposed an ordinance limiting  C-2 District retail cultivation to 750 square feet or 30 flowering plants, whichever is less. Retail cultivation in the Industrial Park zoning district was limited to a 7,500-square-foot space or 300 flowering plants.

Local businessmen Darrell Gudroe and Jan Martin operate Pharmers Market Caregivers at 638 Wiscasset Road which is the C-2 zone. Both have been present at planning board meetings and workshops held in developing a draft ordinance for commercial growth and retail sale of marijuana. They were surprised to see the planning board’s proposal because it differed from what they had previously discussed with town officials.

The two planned on reviewing language submitted by the planning board during a scheduled Aug. 3 workshop. But the workshop was cancelled for lack of a quorum. The board sent a proposed ordinance for selectmen’s review during their Aug. 9 meeting.

“None of these numbers were discussed, and frankly, this doesn’t work for us,” said Gudroe. He and Martin plan on expanding their operation in February 2018 to sell and grow retail marijuana. The proposed restrictions on growing marijuana in the C-2 zone and Industrial Park adversely impact their plans to apply for state licenses to grow and operate a retail business in Boothbay. Besides conversing with the planning board about an ordinance draft, Gudroe and Martin have discussed their future plans with selectmen.

Gudroe’s and Martin’s plans include constructing a $3-5 million facility. Selectmen voted 4-0 to amend the proposed wording to allow more flowering plants in the C-2 zone. The amendment would allow 300 flowering plants or 7,500 square feet in C-2 zone facilities, and follow upcoming state statutes for growing retail marijuana in the industrial park zone.

The next step is soliciting public feedback about the proposal. A public hearing will be held so selectmen can gauge residents’ views and possibly modify the ordinance language. Sept. 27  is the deadline for ordinance submission for the November referendum.

In a 2016 state referendum, Boothbay supported legalized retail recreational marijuana. Boothbay residents mirrored statewide results by approving the referendum 1,088 to 990. Maine voters approved legalized retail recreational marijuana and growing the plant for commercial use 378,288 to 375,668.

Even with the change, Gudroe and Martin aren’t sure it will be enough to meet their needs. If not, selectmen explained local retail recreational marijuana regulations could be changed in May when residents vote on municipal ordinances incorporating standards from the comprehensive plan approved in 2015.