Volunteers still needed for medical marijuana committee

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
Three people to date have said they’re willing to serve on a new ad hoc committee that will study what local regulations can or should be enacted to control the siting and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Bridgton Selectmen, who have yet to finalize the committee’s membership, are going forward with the committee despite voters’ rejection Nov. 4 of a proposal to enact a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites. The call for a moratorium was seen as flawed because it could apply to state-qualified patients and caregivers who are protected under the state’s Maine Medical Marijuana Act.
“This only talks about dispensaries — it doesn’t talk about anything else,” Town Manager Bob Peabody told the board at their Nov. 18 meeting.
Still, at least one selectman, Paul Hoyt, wasn’t convinced there was a need for such a committee.
“What will this committee do?” Hoyt asked.
Peabody referred to copies of the committee’s “charge, mission and authority,” saying the town may adopt reasonable local regulations “subject to what state law already says.” By law, the local regulations cannot be more restrictive than what the state allows.
The charge adopted by selectmen states that the committee is being formed “to provide for the safe sale and distribution to patients who qualify to obtain, possess and use marijuana for medical purposes under the Maine Medical Marijuana Act.”
The mission and charge states that “the key elements of the committee’s mission include protecting public health and safety through reasonable controls on marijuana distribution operations as they relate to noise, air and water quality, food safety, neighborhood and patient safety, security for the operation and its personnel and other health and safety concerns.”
To that end, the charge states, the committee will be charged with “developing ordinances and/or applicable regulations governing medical marijuana dispensaries within the town of Bridgton in accordance with state and local laws, regulations and the Comprehensive Plan.”
Cathy Pinkham, who has applied to serve on the committee, told the board that the town “does have wiggle room” within the framework of the state law to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
The board had earlier decided that five to seven members should serve on the committee. Hoyt said that if no one else comes forward to volunteer, the board would have to decide at that point whether to go forward.
Phyllis Roth, who serves as an alternate on the Bridgton Planning Board, stood up to say she’d be willing to serve. It was also suggested that the town seek committee service from someone with a medical background and also a police enforcement background.
The charge calls for the committee to report to selectmen on a monthly basis and wrap up its work by March of 2015. A final decision on the committee will be made at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 9.

Please follow and like us: