Hermon approves pot facility regulations

Posted Dec. 29, 2010, at 10:12 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Town councilors have adopted a set of definitions, performance standards, fees and rules for medical marijuana cultivation facilities.

The rules, adopted during a meeting on Dec. 16, essentially clear the way for a marijuana growing operation proposed for a warehouse near Interstate 95.

In a related measure, councilors did away with a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana facilities imposed in July and replaced it with one specifically aimed at dispensaries that takes effect Jan. 3.

Local officials still are working on regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, Ron Harriman, the town’s economic development consultant, said Wednesday.

Discussions on that topic are expected to begin next month, said Harriman, who is a member of a Hermon subcommittee formed to analyze existing ordinances and recommend amendments aimed at protecting the town from any negative effects of medical pot operations.

So far, he said, no company has asked to open a medical pot dispensary in Hermon.

The rules and fees established so far were prompted by plans to develop a growing facility in a Dysart’s warehouse near the interstate.

Northeast Patients Group, a recently formed corporation with ties to California-based Berkeley Patients Group, won approval in July from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to run four of the state’s eight clinics in or around Augusta, Bangor, Portland and Thomaston.

Northeast Patients Group has been talking with Hermon town officials for months about developing a marijuana cultivation facility in town but has yet to submit an application, Harriman said.

With that in mind, the town in July enacted a six-month moratorium so guidelines for medical marijuana facilities could be crafted.

Among other things, the cultivation rules set a $10,000 initial application fee and a $5,000 renewal fee for cultivation facilities and require around-the-clock armed security, Harriman said Wednesday.

The rules also limit growers to industrial zones, set a 1,000-foot setback from zone boundaries and prohibit signs indicating that the building is being used to grow medical marijuana, he said.

“I don’t think the community went too far,” Harriman said. “I think the town’s done a good job of coming up with some regulations that are sensible.

“I think we needed to clearly define what it is, who can do it and to what level” before a medical pot facility is allowed to open in town, he said.

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