Lisbon receives first applications to open medical marijuana stores

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LISBON — A week after a moratorium on medical marijuana stores was lifted, Lisbon has received its first two applications.

The businesses applying for a new site are Lisbon Cannabis Co., registered to Jason Smith, who is looking to open at 60 Capital Ave., and BBB Pharmaceutical Alternatives, with Paul Brunelle listed as the owner, who has applied to open at 385 Lisbon St.

“You drive through Lewiston and you see shops,” said Chris Brunelle, a town councilor and Paul Brunelle’s brother. “Then you get into Lisbon and we don’t have any. I’m from Lisbon and I want to do business here.”

Chris Brunelle recused himself from voting on any medical marijuana issues throughout the process to avoid conflicts of interest, but expects to work closely with his brother.

Chris Brunelle bought the location at 385 Lisbon St., a former ambulance barn and one-time school, making the necessary repairs in preparation for when the town could opt in.

“It’s about people learning what we have to offer and its benefits,” Chris Brunelle said. “I’m not looking to make a ton of money off of this, just support my family and work in Lisbon.”

Brunelle said he’s seen positive reaction from his neighbors.

“We have a home for older folks behind us,” he said. “We’ve already had probably eight to 10 people come up and ask if we’re open yet.”

Marijuana businesses are required to pay an annual $250 licensing fee, similar to the way in which municipalities regulate businesses that sell alcohol. The rate for a victualer’s license to serve alcohol is $200.

There aren’t any rules in Lisbon limiting the number of medical marijuana shops in town. When town councilors discussed limiting the stores, the consensus was that demand would dictate how many there should be. While it’s unknown what that demand will be in Lisbon, Androscoggin County as a whole had more than 1,000 registered medical marijuana patients served by 280 caregivers, according to a 2017 report by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Town ordinances require the new facilities to have 24-hour surveillance inside and outside. Businesses will also be required to have some form of odor mitigation system, inspected by a Maine engineer, to reduce any smells coming from the facility. Owners will be held responsible for preventing marijuana use or loitering on their properties, and could face a penalty of between $500 and $2,500 for not complying with the rules.

People with controlled substance violations punishable by a year or more in prison within the past 10 years are disqualified from opening a shop, according to the ordinance. Town councilors have expressed an interest to revise those rules in the future, but wanted something on the books to allow business owners to submit applications.

Douglass said the Planning Board will visit the Lisbon Street site because it’s in a commercial zone, but doesn’t require the same with Capital Avenue being in an industrial location with Coastal Products as one of its closest business neighbors.

“The Planning Board is just reviewing the applications,” Code Enforcement Officer Dennis Douglass said. “I’d expect it to go through this meeting and at their next meeting there would be a public hearing.”

The board meets Dec. 2, when a public hearing could be set.

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