Houlton medical marijuana hearing Monday night

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted March 13, 2011, at 5:21 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — The issue has not generated much interest thus far, but a public hearing scheduled Monday during the Town Council meeting will give residents the chance to weigh in on an ordinance outlining where medical marijuana dispensaries could be allowed in the community.

The ordinance also will deal with where marijuana can be cultivated in the community. The proposal would make changes to the town’s ordinances and codes if approved during the public hearing. The ordinance was drafted to comply with the state’s medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 2009.

The law allows people suffering from certain medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, to use marijuana, to possess up to 2½ ounces of the drug and to grow up to six plants. It allows qualified individuals to set up medical marijuana dispensaries that would be licensed by the state and expands the list of ailments for which doctors can recommend medical marijuana.

More than 400 Mainers have applied to be medical marijuana patients under the new law, and nonprofit storefront dispensaries are preparing to open in eight Maine communities, bringing medical grade marijuana to qualified patients throughout the state. The eight dispensaries must meet strict requirements for security, hours of operation, patient education and public information regarding employees and board members.

Safe Alternatives, a nonprofit organization, has been cultivating marijuana plants in Frenchville since early October at the first operational state-licensed growing facility in Maine.

Maine law only allows for one such site in Aroostook County thus far, but the town wants to be ready for any changes in case more are authorized, according to Houlton Town Manager Doug Hazlett.

The town is looking to locate any such sites in its airport and industrial zones, which are on the outskirts of town and not heavily populated with homes or businesses. Hazlett said that the zones offer more privacy and security.

Last spring, councilors imposed a 180-day moratorium on the location or licensing of any medical marijuana dispensaries within the town. During that time, the town’s planning and zoning boards have worked on an appropriate ordinance.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Office.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/13/news/houlton-medical-marijuana-hearing-monday-night/ printed on August 23, 2014