Calif. pot clinic eyes Brewer

Posted June 23, 2010, at 9:42 p.m.
This is a picture posted on the Northeast Patients Group website.BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25:  Marijuana plants are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late yesterday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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This is a picture posted on the Northeast Patients Group website.BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: Marijuana plants are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late yesterday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BREWER, Maine — A California marijuana dispensary operator approached the city last week about opening a medical marijuana clinic in Brewer near CancerCare of Maine and is talking to neighboring Hermon about a cultivation facility, officials in those communities confirmed on Wednesday.

“The company is applying for the Penquis region dispensary and, if successful, would like to possibly locate it in Brewer,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director, said in a June 15 memo to City Manager Steve Bost. “They are interested in one of the [Brewer Economic Development Corp.]-owned lots out on Dirigo Drive” near CancerCare of Maine and the offices of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems.

Matt Hawes, who is a principal in California-based Berkeley Patients Group and the newly formed Maine-based Northeast Patients Group, told Main-Boyington that company officials also are looking at locations in Bangor and Hermon.

“He told me that the town of Hermon has already said that they would welcome his business and that although he preferred a location in Brewer over Hermon, he would not want to locate here unless the population was in support of his business because he was not looking for a fight,” her e-mail states.

Main-Boyington was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. Attempts to reach Hawes also were unsuccessful.

Hermon Town Manager Clint Deschene said Wednesday that the town has been approached about establishing a growing plant in the town’s industrial zone, which includes U.S. Route 2 and the Cold Brook Road.

“It’s not a dispensary, but a cultivation facility” or warehouse used for packaging, he said.

The business would be allowed to move to town only “if they put in an application and have a permit” from the state, Deschene said.

“We work with businesses the best we can,” he said. “We’re willing to work with them.”

Brewer city councilors enacted a six-month marijuana clinic moratorium in December, then amended it in January. Earlier this month an extra 180 days was added, which extends the Brewer ban until the end of the year.

Bangor enacted a six-month moratorium on marijuana clinics in May that lasts until October. Hermon has no ban.

Officials in Bangor and Brewer are using the time to create new land use codes regarding rules for operating potential marijuana clinics.

No one has approached Brewer’s planning office about opening a marijuana clinic, Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Butler said Wednesday.

Maine voters first approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999. The law allows people suffering from certain medical ailments, such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, to use marijuana, to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of the drug and to grow up to six plants.

Maine voters endorsed a referendum in November 2009 that expands the law to include more medical conditions and allow medical marijuana patients or their caregivers to legally buy marijuana from nonprofit, government-sanctioned dispensaries.

In April, state legislators approved a bill that allows up to eight medical marijuana dispensaries statewide and creates a state-run registry system for patients and caregivers who legally can possess the drug. Patients must register with the state by the first of the year to use the drug legally.

Friday at 2 p.m. is the deadline for would-be operators of the eight medical marijuana dispensaries to file applications with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The application fee is $15,000.

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.

DHHS plans to announce their eight selected operators on July 9, which means clinics could open later this year.

Paul Sevigny, a retired Bangor pharmacist, and Brewer City Councilor Joseph Ferris each contacted Main-Boyington to say “they thought the [California] business was highly reputable,” her e-mail to Bost states.

Ferris said Wednesday that he spoke with officials from Berkeley Patients Group and “I … put them in touch with the development office” in Brewer.

What Brewer’s new land use codes regarding marijuana clinics will look like and whether the California-based group is going to be one of those selected by the state to open a regional dispensary remain to be seen, he said.

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