Councilors adopt medical marijuana rules

LEWISTON — There's a difference between growing medical marijuana for yourself and growing it for other people, city councilors said Tuesday night.

"And I think that given our housing stock, we have a duty to regulate those larger operations," Councilor Mark Cayer said.

Councilors voted 5-0 over the objections of the Maine Civil Liberties Union to approve a pair of ordinances aimed at regulating medical marijuana growing and distributing operations.

Alysia Melnick, public policy counsel for the Maine Civil Liberties Union, said state rules regulating sellers of medical marijuana are more than adequate. They might even be too strict.

"We're already concerned about state regulations," Melnick said. "So now we're doubly concerned about municipalities layering more regulations on groups that are acting in a law-abiding manner."

Voters approved the sale of medical marijuana in November 2009, but the city has since had a moratorium in place. That moratorium, which keeps dispensaries out, is due to expire in January.

Auburn Plaza, across the river on Center Street, will be home to one of eight medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The dispensary, Remedy Compassion, is tentatively set to open this month. It will be the only one serving the state's Zone 3, which includes Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties.

Lewiston's new rules would limit all distributors to industrial, commercial business, office service and urban enterprise zones of the city. It would also keep them away from churches and child care facilities and would mandate background checks for officers, board members and employees.

But state law allows smaller operations, called primary caregivers, virtually anywhere. Those small operations are allowed to grow and dispense medical marijuana for up to five patients with valid prescriptions.

Lewiston's rules still exempt providers growing for themselves or a single patient. They require those providing medical marijuana for two to five patients to get city licenses and to meet certain fire safety, building and code rules.

"The city has legitimate health, safety and welfare concerns," Mayor Larry Gilbert said. "These larger operations will require a large number of grow lights and heating sources that could create a fire hazard  — particularly in some of the city's older structures and multi-family residences."

Melnick argued that the rules are not necessary. The state has allowed caregivers to grow medical marijuana for themselves or family members with prescriptions since 1999.

"There are many operations that have been in existence for years across Maine, and certainly some in Lewiston," she said. "I would think that if those problems were likely to occur, they would have already."

Danika Clark said she is a medical marijuana patient who buys from a primary caregiver. Her caregiver has told her he will have to give up his operation under Lewiston's new rules.

"This is forcing people to choose between their homes and providing the medicine they need," Melnick said.

Melnick said the MCLU over the next month would review its options concerning Lewiston's new rules. That could involve suing the city, she said.

 staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

fatandhappy "personal Choice"

You dont need to make NEW laws governing driving under the infulence because impaired driving is impaired driving no matter if its alcahol or not. Same with operating machinery... I dont think a manufacturing plant is under some obligation to allow workers to operate machinery while high just because it is now legal??? Alcohol is legal and the same rules apply ect.

Again why do we NEED government involvment?? I can by a beer kit and make my own beer and drink it.. why cant I grow my own pot and smoke it??

Your fear of everybody running around high and causing industrial disasters is completely unfounded.

Get RID of government involvement in our personal lives and the whole country would be better off..

That doesnt me driving a car on a PUBLIC road, or flying a passanger airliner.. it just means let be people be and what they do on their own time behind closed doors is their business..

We spend billions of dollars investigating, prosecuting, and incarcirating non violent drug offenders in this country and believe you me that this is all about money and power!

 's picture

Fire Hazard

I'm for total legalization- not just medicienal! But, I do have to say, the idea of plant lights in little canada- where those wooden appartments stand wall to wall, NO!!! Too dangerous! Freedom of choice should be respected as long as others arn't endangered. Why not build a hydroponic rental space for "care providers", where the mills once stood, using canal water power to generate electricity for indoor gardens that can be guarded maintained and taxed as an enterprise. This could even become a green business with export potental and a job creator that put the Mexican cartels out of business.
Think about it!

 's picture

More beaucratic BS!!

This is stupid. Instead of just legalizing it and letting people make personal choices of whether or not they want to smoke pot our illustrious government is now creating a loop hole to an already confusing set of federal, state, local laws/ordinances governing the use, sale, and posession of Marijuana.

People you need to realize the crazyness and backroom BS associated with all of this.

By now creating the "loop hole" medicinal marijuana we only create more problems.. selected

If a landlord doesn't allow smoking in his/her apt dwellings he or she now has to allow someone to smoke pot......... because its medicinal??

Carefully "selected" proprietors will now be allowed to distribute, sell, or dispense this stuff..... how was this selction process handeled? why cant it be done through a pharmacy? whats wrong with a pill form of THC..

Dorctors writing scripts will now be scrutinized, more enforcement issues for law enforcement trying to figure out who has a script?? Is anyone else here smoking this?

this is all nuts and once again the sheeple are too busy to recognize it.. Just legalize this crap and none of this would be taking place..

Jeffrey Benedict's picture

unfunded mandates of Medicare would be funded that's part A B C

The government confiscates 32 tons of marijuana from tunnel under a patrolled boarder stop.
let’s look at this a moment.
...There are
35,840 ounces in a ton.
Each ounce sales at between
$400 and $600 dollars an ounce.
For our purpose we will say each ounce costs $350
35,840 ounces at $350 = 12,544,000
taxed at 7% =$ 878,080 in tax revenue
At this moment $45,508,251,944.00 spent on Drug war. This year
legalizing Marijuana = $45,509,130,024.00 tax dollars ...saved.
Do this for ten years and all of the unfunded mandates of Medicare would be funded that's part A B C and D all funded in ten years or less.
Is marijuana a gate way drug? Is Beer a gateway to hard liqueur? I don't know the answers to either but prohibition does not work.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

FDR proposed a chicken in

FDR proposed a chicken in every pot....Now we're headed for pot in every chicken.

 's picture

Did you read the article?? It

Did you read the article?? It says that if you are a primary caregiver, you are allowed to cultivate marijuana for up to 5 patients under your care with medicinal marijuana prescriptions. This mirrors State Law, however they added that you must obtain a license from the town to do so, and the cultivation is restricted to certain zoning districts. Now if you are a medicinal marijuana prescription holder, you can cultivate your own for your own consumption without a license. Please read before you insert foot!!

 's picture

oh yeah OK

This is just a terrible abuse of power by the city. I think they should also limit the sale, use and distribution of tylenol as well... Oh hey wait...doesn't Lewiston already have a snoke shop that primarily caters to the black market crowd anyways?

All Good, Lewiston is pretty much turned to Somalia anyways with the people who are living there...

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

It is time to legalize sale

It is time to legalize sale of marijuana and any other soft drugs. This is the only way the government will ever rid the country of illegal drug dealers and the problems they cause. Just take a moment and look at the chaos the current U.S. laws banning marijuana etc. are causing in our Southern neighbor, Mexico. The current laws are reminiscent of the laws banning alcohol sales in the last century. Can we not learn from the past?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"illegal drug

"illegal drug dealers?"
Political correctness dictates that they be referred to as undocumented pharmacists.

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