BREWER, Maine — City Council members, worried about marijuana distribution clinics popping up in the city, have begun discussing the expanded access law that Maine voters approved at the polls last week.
“California has one on every corner, I guess,” Councilor Manley DeBeck said to start off the conversation during Tuesday’s council meeting. “Whenever we have any type of [drug] use, there is abuse.”
Voters endorsed expanding access to marijuana for medical reasons and made Maine the fifth state to allow retail pot distribution centers. Maine has allowed people suffering from certain medical ailments, such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, to use marijuana for a decade.
DeBeck asked Police Chief Perry Antone what the city can do to be active and prevent any marijuana clinics from opening near schools.
“The state isn’t even sure how they’re going to regulate these facilities,” Antone told the council. “It leaves us to wait.”
Gov. John Baldacci on Friday created a 14-member task force charged with recommending how to implement the new pharmaceutical distribution system.
Those with qualifying medical problems now “have to provide a letter from their doctor to possess marijuana,” Antone said.
Under current zoning, retail distribution centers would be able to operate in any business district, said Dave Russell, the city’s code enforcement officer.
He said if councilors are worried about marijuana clinics opening near schools, they might want to consider overlapping a permitted zone with the new methadone and narcotic treatment facilities zones.
Drug treatment clinics are allowed to open only in the Wilson Street corridor and are barred from being near schools.
“I think it’s something that we have to take a long, hard look at,” City Attorney Joel Dearborn said. “Even though this is a legal use in the state of Maine, it’s still a federal offense” to possess marijuana.
California, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island already allow medical marijuana patients to legally buy marijuana.
During Tuesday’s meeting, councilors also:
· Authorized the city manager to sign an option to sell city-owned land within the proposed Brewer Business and Commerce Park to a developer. Few details about the project were available Tuesday, but Brewer Economic Development Director D’arcy Main-Boyington said if the project is successful, “it will be an anchor tenant in our future business park.”
· Hired Lou Silver of Veazie to construct Phase 2 of the Brewer landfill’s mandated waste consolidation project at a cost of $402,280. The project will move waste from the old “town dump” to an area between the closed solid waste landfill and the current construction and demolition debris landfill.
· Authorized hiring a lawyer to investigate a recent land deal between the Brewer Housing Authority and its former board chairman to determine “whether or not there was a conflict of interest in violation of” Maine statutes, the order says.
· Accepted $200 from Bangor Tire Co. and TD Bank for the Brewer Parks and Recreation Department.
· Authorized the replacement of 10 flapper valves, for $9,305, and two splash guards, for $42,640, that originally were installed in 1975 at the Waste Water Treatment Plant; and a backhoe for the public works department for $60,400.
· Endorsed a tax abatement for Bangor Gas Co. for 2010 in the amount of $19,483.
· Authorized the release of easements for an abandoned waterline along Levenseller Road.
· Conveyed a 20-foot-by-190-foot strip of city-owned land on Forrest Avenue to abutter Jason Hardy, who plans to build a home for his daughter on the property.