FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Northern Maine’s only state-licensed medical marijuana facility has until the middle of this month to appeal the denial of a municipal medical marijuana cultivation facility permit.
The Frenchville planning board denied the permit to Safe Alternatives at its regular May 9 meeting based on several incomplete sections of the business’ permit application.
Safe Alternatives has been operating under a state license since it became one of eight medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in June 2010.
Neither Leo Trudel, co-founder of Safe Alternatives, nor officials with the DHHS medical marijuana task force returned calls for comment.
Information was not readily available on how much, if any, medical marijuana is currently produced by Safe Alternatives, how the business is dispensing any medical marijuana or in what quantity.
“The planning board’s decision was based on [Safe Alternatives’] incomplete application,” Town Manager Casey Cote said Friday.
Specifically, Cote said the business had failed to secure an approved cultivation facility inspection by the town’s code enforcement officer; had not obtained the proper boundary line variance; and had failed to pay the required $500 permit fee.
In addition, Casey said the planning board determined Safe Alternatives had not satisfied the town’s security requirements by retaining video surveillance tapes for 90 days.
According to the minutes of the May 9 planning board meeting, town code enforcement officer Bob Ouellet attempted to conduct his inspection of the facility on May 1, but was denied entrance to the
Safe Alternatives facility by Trudel.
“Safe Alternatives has no permit from the town at all,” Cote said. “Right now they are falling under the state’s permit.”
Cote added she is unsure how Safe Alternatives can continue to operate without a municipal permit.
“That really is the big question,” she said. “DHHS has said they can continue to operate but as far as ‘home rule’ authority extends is a gray area.”
The town has retained an attorney to look into Safe Alternatives’ business operations in light of the permit denial.
Residents will vote on an ordinance regulating medical marijuana cultivation and a dispensary in their community during a special town meeting June 4.
Among the items in that ordinance is a requirement that any future permitting fees be paid up front.
“There have been a lot of time and staff hours spent on this,” Cote said. “It would be nice to have some monetary compensation.”
Cote said the town’s proposed ordinance, though stricter than the state’s regulations, would allow Safe Alternatives to operate within the municipality.