Whitneyville passes marijuana dispensary moratorium

Posted Oct. 04, 2010, at 8:05 p.m.

WHITNEYVILLE, Maine — Local voters Monday night unanimously approved a 180-day moratorium on accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The action comes on the heels of the state’s announcement last month that a Portland-based company’s application for a dispensary in Whitneyville was accepted.

“I’m not surprised it was unanimous,” Selectman Nate Pennell said after the meeting. He said people in town were upset about the location of a proposed dispensary in the center of town.

Although the town cannot ban dispensaries outright, Pennell said, it can provide reasonable restrictions on location.

The proposed dispensary would be operated by Primary Organic Therapy Inc., or POT, and according to its application, the company expects to do $2.4 million in business annually supplying marijuana to qualified recipients in Washington and Hancock counties.

But a business of that size in the center of the town was something that needed a closer look, Pennell said.

The ordinance, crafted after one written for the town of Topsham, which also has enacted a moratorium, raises issues and concerns such as impact traffic and location near homes, the library, a church, day care centers and recreation facilities.

Thirty-one residents were on hand to ask questions about the move, which will be in effect until Feb. 28. The voters had few questions and most were just clarifying language in the ordinance.

Pennell said the moratorium will give the selectmen time to form a committee which will work with the selectmen and the planning board with assistance from the Washington County Council of Governments. The committee is charged with studying the state’s rules and local land use codes to determine the implications of a dispensary and to designate a location within the community that would be suitable for such a business.

Pennell said the town officials were very upset that no one from the state or Primary Organic Therapy had contacted them about the project either before or after POT’s application was approved. No one from Primary Organic Therapy was at the town meeting Monday.

Derek Brock, CEO of Primary Organic Therapy, told the Bangor Daily News in August after POT was selected as one of eight Maine dispensaries, that he would be contacting Whitneyville officials to discuss the project.

Several Bangor Daily News telephone calls to Primary Organic Therapy last week have not been returned.

POT originally submitted two applications to the Maine Department of Human Services for dispensaries in Sanford and Whitneyville. The Sanford application was not selected for state approval.