OXFORD — Representatives for HBC, one of four licensed medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Oxford, have requested that the town’s ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana businesses be reviewed and updated.

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In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, a marijuana plant grows under artificial light at an indoor facility in Portland. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Aaron Pastor, a consultant to company, and Andrew Keeley, manager of Oxford Commercial Properties, LLC (owner of the property), presented the Select Board with a timeline of how recreational marijuana was legalized in Maine, going back to 1999 when the law allowing growing and distributing medicinal marijuana first passed.

The timeline was prepared by Adam Cote, a lawyer with Drummond Woodsum and originally presented to the City of Biddeford’s Policy Committee in September.

Using the document as a guideline for their request, Pastor and Keeley asked Oxford Selectmen to consider loosening the current recreational marijuana ordinance, which limits dispensaries to medicinal use only.

Oxford residents voted to prohibit recreational marijuana at their annual town meeting back in 2018, adopting the recommendation of the town’s Adult Use Marijuana Committee.

The state of Maine created the Office of Marijuana Policy in February, 2019. It operates within the Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs and was tasked to oversee adult use and medical marijuana programs statewide. OMP began issuing licenses for the cultivation, adult use and manufacturing earlier this year and retail licenses to sell marijuana products last month.

Given the progress of recreational marijuana businesses in maine, Pastor and Keeley appealed to selectmen that now is an appropriate time to revisit Oxford’s ordinance that prohibits it.

“Our goal last week was simply to introduce ourselves and the idea [of a recreational marijuana dispensary],” said Pastor in statement on Monday. “The owners of the property would like to develop the property for marijuana uses, and adult use marijuana provides another beneficial layer for the town economically, related to the tax base, local employment, and all the ancillary advantages of additional construction projects and jobs. Notably, Marijuana is a high-growth industry that brings with it sophisticated cultivation and manufacturing technology.

“We’re simply exploring whether the town would consider changing the ordinance. We’d like to be able to host adult use businesses in Oxford. This would include manufacturing, cultivation, and, ideally, retail.”

Some residents, including members on the original Adult Use Marijuana Committee, question any amendments that would expand recreational marijuana in Oxford.

“We looked this in 2017. The ordinance prohibiting it passed easily at town meeting,” said Roger Wulleman of Oxford. “The proposal for Biddeford, the company wanted a quick amendment change and said they would consider relocating to a different town if they didn’t get what they wanted.

“Oxford already has a racetrack, a casino. These dispensaries are popping up all over the place, they are in Mechanic Falls and in South Paris. Do we need them here, too?”

Pete Laverdiere, a member of the committee and Select Board Chairman when the ordinance passed, agreed.

“Oxford opted out of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries,” he said. “Our ordinance was simply to adopt the state rules on whether to allow it or not.”

After Pastor and Keeley addressed the Board last Thursday, Selectmen agreed that due to language changes in the law and considering that the current ordinance was drafted prior to the law coming into force, that it should be reviewed, updated and brought back to voters.

“Oxford’s marijuana laws are very structured and their wait-and-see approach was a sensible one,” Pastor summarized. “Now that time has passed and the program has structure at the state-level, the Town can reasonably judge how additional investment in the [recreational marijuana] space would benefit Oxford, its property owners, and all its citizens.”

Both Laverdiere and Wulleman said they would be willing to join a new iteration of Oxford’s Adult Use Marijuana Committee to review the matter and ordinance.

“I want to see Oxford remain a good town to raise a family, just as in the past,” said Wulleman.

 

 

 

 


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