WILTON — The Wilton Select Board authorized a marijuana business to apply to be the town’s first dispensary Tuesday, Feb. 1.

The dispensary application was authorized, though not on the agenda, after concerns were raised during the meeting by John Black, owner of Earth Keeper, a marijuana cultivation and medical retail business. Black was unhappy with the delay since he first filed the application to transfer from a retail to dispensary license.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish explained that a retail store and two cultivation facilities in town want to “transfer to the dispensary category.”

“It’s not a new category by the state, but it’s been expanded,” Irish said.

According to the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), “the most notable difference [between a dispensary and a caregiver retail store]  is that dispensaries can grow an unlimited number of marijuana plants.”

“Both registration types may engage in cultivation, manufacturing, and sales to patients,” the OMP states.


Irish said the transfer requires approval from the town in some way before they go to the state — at which point the town can’t rescind their decision.

Irish explained over the phone that businesses applying for a dispensary license get authorization first from the town and then are issued a license by the state — the final step in the process. This differs from applications for adult and medical use stores, which have the opposite process with final approval by the town.

Select Board Chair David Leavitt said the town’s legal counsel believe Wilton’s ordinance, as it stands, does not allow the dispensary category and there “needs to be some change [to the ordinance] before we can move forward.”

Saviello said he disagreed with that interpretation because “we voted to opt in as a community.”

Saviello was referencing the 2019 town meeting where voters opted in “to allow the operation of … medical marijuana usages” in Wilton. This was before the town formally issued its original Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Ordinance, approved at the 2020 town meeting.

“I will be voting for all and anybody that wants to have this [dispensary license],” Saviello said. “It was very clear what we did that night [that the town opted in]. So we don’t need to wait and change the ordinance.”


“At the 2019 town meeting, the very first time the town opted … into having marijuana within the town, dispensaries was included at that time,” Irish said.

However, she noted that the town attorney’s interpretation was that “she didn’t like the wording” of the ordinance.

“We don’t have it in the newest ordinance or on the tables of where they would be located,” Irish said. “Because even as much as a year ago, we didn’t realize [the state] was going to expand the amount of dispensaries that they were allowing.”

She added that the town reached out to the state and they told her “‘you’ve opted in for marijuana and medical marijuana. And a dispensary fits under medical marijuana,'” but that the town should reach out to its legal counsel.

Selectperson Keith Swett asked what the “ramifications” would be for Wilton if the town ended up being “wrong” after the board went ahead and authorized the application for the transfer to the dispensary category.

“I don’t know,” Irish said.


“Who’s gonna sue who?” Saviello added. “The state is really the only one that could come in and do something about the dispensaries.”

Leavitt said “it would be worthwhile” for Irish to research what the “potential consequences” to approving the transfer might be.

Black said he is concerned about the delay in being authorized to file the dispensary application with the state. Black has been waiting three or four months for approval since he first filed the application, he said.

“We’re opening up multiple locations in other towns … and this is kind of crisis mode,” Black said. “I thought this would have been taken care of several months ago. The timeframe in which this has taken is too long.”

Black added that he is “running into other problems, because now I can’t produce enough product for these potential retail stores that I’m going to be opening.”

Irish said that though the ordinance can’t be amended until the June town meeting, it’s up to the Select Board to move forward with a decision.


Ultimately, Leavitt was “not opposed to acting” on this issue. However, he felt that because the item was not on the agenda, the board should not take action.

“I think it’s clear what we did,” Saviello said.

Discussion was had over whether or not the item was on the agenda, whether it would be applicable under the agenda item about marijuana license renewals that was approved earlier in the meeting.

Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri said that the board was “splitting hairs” over this issue.

“I believe that we did opt in … I don’t want to hold up our businesses. The intent is there,” Maiuri said. She added that this can be fixed at the town meeting, but the board should approve the category change now.

“I have a hard time not moving forward [and] not allowing businesses to thrive,” she said.

Despite Leavitt’s concerns over procedure, Saviello made a motion to “issue whatever we have to issue for the dispensary license” — which Irish said is a signed form by Code Enforcement Office Charlie Lavin.

The board voted 3-2 to issue the license: Saviello, Maiuri and Selectperson Phil Hilton voted yes; Swett and Leavitt voted no due to issues with the process by which the issue, motion were raised.

Comments are not available on this story.