February 17, 2018
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Hampden OKs pot dispensary moratorium

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

HAMPDEN, Maine — The list of communities in Greater Bangor that will not immediately accommodate a medical marijuana dispensary is getting larger every week.

Town councilors in Hampden voted Monday night to enact a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries to give the municipal staff time to review local zoning regulations.

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“We weren’t treating this like a crisis, but with anything that could have a local impact, it makes sense to review what we have,” Town Manager Sue Lessard said Tuesday. “Frankly, it took the state some time to decide what it was going to do, so for a while there was not a lot to react to on our part.”

Lessard said the town has not been approached by anyone seeking to site a dispensary in Hampden. Bangor and Brewer have passed similar moratoriums, and numerous other communities across the state have initiated the discussion, including Orono and Veazie.

On Monday, city councilors in Portland voted against a moratorium, largely because, as Councilor David Marshall said, “patients want this now.”

Lessard said no one has spoken in opposition to a moratorium in Hampden. The issue will be sent to the town’s planning and development staff for review and, eventually, will go back to the Town Council to see whether any changes are necessary.

Applications are due to the state by June 25. Permits will be granted to the applicant with the highest score based on a point system that considers more than a dozen detailed criteria, including security and quality-control plans and the strength of the application’s long-term business plan. Would-be dispensary operators also must pay a $15,000 fee for each application. All dispensaries must be incorporated nonprofits in Maine whose board members all reside in the state.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services plans to name selected operators by July 9, which means they could open in the fall.

By the first of next year, medical marijuana patients must register with the state to use the drug legally. Previously, all they needed was a doctor’s note.

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