Marijuana survey shows varying opinions

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

How should Bridgton approach regulating medical marijuana dispensaries and adult-use storefronts?

It all depends upon who you ask.

As Bridgton planners and others craft a local ordinance to address the issue, 229 people registered their thoughts in a survey the town conducted back in late July and early August.

Some were short and to the point from “The time has come, don’t drag it out” to “Here’s our chance. Let’s do it right” and “This type of business has no place in our town.”

Under “additional comments,” the town received 74 responses. Here’s a sampling:

  • Over the last 45 years, Bridgton has maintained its uniqueness by letting others — North Conway, Windham, etc. — take the onus of strip malls, large box stores and residential unfriendly operations. Let’s continue to do so.
  • Medical products are positive. Social product and its multiple side effects are negative and should not be endorsed/coat-tailed to marijuana medical.
  • Fryeburg is allowing retail sales. Bridgton will lose out on a lot of tax dollars if it isn’t allowed. If you allow bars and liquor stores, then you should allow retail sales of cannabis and social clubs. I understand the importance of keeping the odor down. This can be done with charcoal filters. Apprehension about social clubs is understandable, but in my opinion, retail sales done correctly shouldn’t be.
  • It’s legal and should be treated as any other legal business.
  • Will help with tax base. Sick of my property taxes going up every year.
  • Will attract people who will be a detriment to Bridgton and reduce its attractiveness to businesses, shoppers and new residents.
  • Start slow by limiting licenses and approve the most established cannabis company that Bridgton attracts.
  • I am excited to see Bridgton evaluating marijuana businesses. As along as only responsible businesses are granted permits and the town provides oversights to ensure proper use and distribution, this would be a great addition to the town.
  • Allowing marijuana cultivation and sales will provide a wonderful opportunity for growth for the town of Bridgton.
  • Please don’t ruin a beautiful tourist town with marijuana businesses. Let Bridgton be the wonderful vacation spot that it has always been for families without marijuana businesses and all the potential problems that come along with drugs.
  • We have enough drug-related problems without getting involved with the growth and distribution of another mind-altering drug.
  • The community is in great need of additional year-round job opportunities and the town is in need of the additional retail tax. There is no downside to moving ahead with adult-used and medical-use marijuana. Regarding public health concerns, marijuana actually poses less of a threat than alcohol and tobacco products, so this should not be a valid argument to prevent the town moving forward with this. I’m also aware of several residents who use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain; it would be beneficial for these townspeople to have dispensaries locally situated.
  • I feel extending marijuana-related businesses beyond that which is currently allowed is a serious mistake. I do not believe that we would see economic gains. In fact, the presence of retail stores will most likely discourage some potential shoppers, vendors and homeowners to visit or locate in town. It would also add burdens and expense to the services such as the police department. Is this the image we hope to project? Most importantly, what is the message to our children and youth? We are attempting to respond to an opioid crisis. Adding more access and promoting drug use is not the way to support resolution to this important public health issue. Lastly, use of marijuana has been proven to have a negative effect on those with emerging mental illness. They tend to have more serious symptoms, become ill at a younger age and see less success in treatment. All of the above reasons should discourage the town from chasing a quick buck.
  • The Planning Board should not choose to allow Bridgton to have these stores. The Planning Board should preserve the safe, peaceful, quaint nature of Bridgton and prevent these stores from being allowed. These stores would be a cultural and moral travesty to our community and send a terrible message to our youth.
  • I am concerned about the large use of power, as well as large use and pollution of water used in the business of growing pot. These issues have created problems in other communities. I do not want to see pot sold or served anywhere in Bridgton. We already have three medical pot businesses. That’s enough.
  • The worst thing we could do to Bridgton is turn it into the marijuana tourist capital of Maine. That would completely destroy what we have here. Medical and private use is okay, commercial…No!

Survey answers

Survey to Allow Adult Use Marijuana Establishments

(Medical/Retail/Commercial)

  • I believe that adult marijuana businesses should be allowed in Bridgton: Y 125, N 86, Neutral 18

Business Types — Adult Use

(Answer choices — SA, strongly agree; A, agree; N, neutral; D, disagree; SD, strongly disagree)

  • Commercial growing and cultivation of adult-use marijuana should be allowed in Bridgton: 89 SA, 39 A, 20 N, 17 D, 61 SD
  • Retail Sales (stores) should be allowed in Bridgton: 89 SA, 42 A, 13 N, 15 D, 70 SD
  • Social clubs should be allowed in Bridgton: 59 SA, 23 A, 42 N, 23 D, 81 SD
  • Marijuana testing facilities should be allowed in Bridgton: 73 SA, 41 A, 38 N, 16 D, 58 SD
  • Nursery facilities should be allowed in Bridgton: 85 SA, 42 A, 27 N, 14 D, 63 SD

Business Types — Medical

  • Commercial growing and cultivation of medical marijuana should be allowed in Bridgton (226 responses): 41.2% SA, 21.7% A, 11.1% N, 4.8% D, 21.2% SD
  • Marijuana products manufacturing should be allowed in Bridgton (226 responses): 38.9% SA, 19.9% A, 8.8% N, 7.6% D, 24.8% SD
  • Marijuana testing facilities should be allowed in Bridgton (226 responses: 35% SA, 19.5% A, 12.8% N, 8% D, 24.8% SD
  • Nursery facilities should be allowed in Bridgton (226 responses): 38% SA, 20.8% A, 9.7% N, 8% D, 23.5% SD

Locations

  • Growing and cultivation should be allowed in rural areas and areas currently used for agriculture (224 responses): 86 SA, 52 A, 23 N, 16 D, 48 SD
  • Products manufacturing should be limited to commercial and industrial areas in Bridgton (221): 48 SA, 48 A, 56 N, 22 D, 49 SD
  • Retail sales (stores) should be allowed anywhere in Bridgton (222): 57 SA, 38 A, 26 N, 27 D, 78 SD
  • Retail sales (stores) should be limited to areas that currently allow sales of other products (219): 39 SA, 46 A, 64 N, 18 D, 54 SD
  • Social clubs should be allowed anywhere in Bridgton (223): 41 SA, 17 A, 36 N, 38 D, 92 SD
  • Social clubs should be limited to areas that currently allow bars/restaurants (219): 38 SA, 36 A, 56 N, 23 D, 67 SD

Additional Regulations

  • The planning board should review proposals for marijuana businesses just like any other business (222): 105 SA, 51 A, 20 N, 14 D, 35 SD
  • The board of selectmen should review proposals for marijuana businesses just like they do for businesses that serve or produce alcohol beverages (223): 93 SA, 56 A, 24 N, 10 D, 41 SD
  • The town should require that marijuana businesses not be located near schools or churches (224): 120 SA, 33 A, 38 N, 19 D, 16 SD

Other

  • I feel that marijuana businesses will help Bridgton’s economy (223): 101 SA, 31 A, 27 N, 13 D, 51 SD
  • I feel that the presence of marijuana businesses are a threat to public health and safety (225): 58 SA, 26 A, 20 N, 26 D, 99 SD
  • I am concerned about the odors from marijuana businesses (223): 59 SA, 32 A, 32 N, 32 D, 68 SD.

The Bridgton Planning Board will hold a second marijuana workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m.

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