December 13, 2018
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Portland designates zones where marijuana businesses can open

Steven Senne | AP
Steven Senne | AP
A visitor examines a marijuana sample at the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston, March 25, 2018.

There are new regulations for where marijuana businesses can and can’t open in Portland.

Selling pot is still illegal right now, but city planners say they are getting a jump start before it’s legal.

Portland’s Planning Board unanimously approved a new marijuana zoning map that will dictate where recreational and medical marijuana businesses can be.

“One standard for everybody, it’s streamlined, I think it will make it a lot easier,” marijuana law expert Tammie Snow said.

[Massachusetts shops sell more than $2.2M of marijuana in 1st week of legal sales]

The proposals follows the same zone map set up for medical businesses eight years ago, allowing grow operations and testing in most industrial zones, and retail stores in most commercial zones, including downtown.

“Pretty much you go from the Old Port, then out along Forest Avenue, which makes a lot of sense,” Snow said.

These are high traffic areas that many say would be big for business.

“It seems to make sense to me that there should be allowed retail stores in downtown, that’s where a lot of people are, but just as with anything else, we’ve got to make sure we do it right,” Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said.

With the popularity of recreational marijuana already taking off in other states in New England, the concern now is what retail pot shops could look like in the Old Port, an area that’s already congested enough.

[Future for marijuana businesses in Orono still up in the air]

“The peninsula is small, is it going to be able to handle all of that traffic, everything that’s going to bring in,” Snow said. “We’re already crowded enough in the summers down here.”

City planners say they have thought about those issues.

“We have tools to sort of mitigate impacts when they come up and as new uses come online, and hopefully they will be sufficient,” Planner Christine Grimando said.

With final approval still pending, many hope it benefits everyone.

“Just to be fair, that cannabis businesses are treated the same way that other businesses are treated and I think that they have done a really great job with that,” Maine Cannabis Consultants’ Amanda Melnick said.

 


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