GARDINER — Alex McMahan and his partners manufactured it a position to total and submit their license application past week for an adult-use cannabis company in Gardiner.
Their enterprise, The Healing Neighborhood MEDCo, operates two clinical cannabis stores in Lewiston.
As the start date for the state’s grownup-use cannabis industry attracts closer, they are doing work to expand their organization further than Lewiston and further than the clinical cannabis and related solutions they at present promote. The firm has programs to open a third site at 189 H2o St. in Gardiner.
When town officials have established rules on cannabis-related enterprises in advance of the start of Maine’s adult-use cannabis sector, anticipated later on this 12 months, neither they nor anyone in the marketplace know accurately how that industry will shake out.
The Therapeutic Community MEDCo is 1 of a few shops that has submitted an application for a marijuana institution business license for a store in and close to Gardiner’s downtown. The metropolis also has six healthcare cannabis improve operations and a health-related retail shop.
Two professional medical cannabis retail outlets on Drinking water Road have both closed or moved out of the metropolis.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, city officers permitted a business license for Organic Pathways at 35 Bridge St. The Planning Board is envisioned to take up two far more programs at its meeting this 7 days, and finally the application for McMahan’s organization.
The demand for marijuana retail space that is acquiring in Gardiner has caught residents, organization homeowners and city officials by shock. Now, the Gardiner Town Council is thinking about no matter if it, in addition to the laws and costs by now set in location, needs to impose an further limit on the amount of retail areas the metropolis will permit in its downtown neighborhood.
“You really do not frequently see this sort of stuff occurring in authentic time,” explained David Findlay, a professor of economics at Colby College in Waterville.
With the 2016 statewide vote to legalize cannabis, it was crystal clear a the greater part of Maine voters wished it, Findlay said, but the true desire for authorized hashish goods continues to be to be viewed, and it is desire that will shape the current market.
“Legal use of cannabis does not exist right now,” Findlay stated. “The intriguing concern for likely entrants into the marketplace is they don’t know what need is going to be. You’re going to have people wanting to open up institutions mainly because they look at this as a worthwhile action, as an opportunity to make revenue like any other agency in any other business would.”
A single of the restricting components is the variety of metropolitan areas and cities that will let it. In Maine, municipalities must decide in to permitting hashish-associated firms. Whilst Gardiner and other communities — like Richmond, Hallowell and Manchester — have, others — notably, Augusta — have not. And other people, these as Chelsea, are anticipated to place the problem to voters in an approaching election.
One more limiting aspect in Gardiner is the restrictions presently in place. In the city’s downtown neighborhood, marijuana retail retailers can be no nearer to a person an additional than 200 ft.
A 3rd variable is general public feeling. Community groups, these as the Gardiner Region Thrives Coalition, are pressing for far more restrictions mainly because they want to limit children’s exposure to cannabis.
More than enough worry experienced been registered by Gardiner citizens and corporations to put the matter back prior to the Town Council previous week.
In bringing the topic to the Gardiner Town Council, Mayor Patricia Hart recapped the actions city officials took soon after Maine voters narrowly accepted legalizing cannabis in a statewide 2016 referendum vote: Appointing a activity pressure to make tips on whether or not and how to permit marijuana firms in the city, location up the regulatory framework in the city’s Land Use Ordinance and location a timetable of fees for licenses.
“One factor we did not anticipate was a pandemic,” Hart claimed. “And we absolutely did not anticipate us owning as lots of open retail outlet fronts (on Water Road) all at after that we have experienced this spring.”
“We would exclusively like to talk to the council to take into consideration restricting retail density in Gardiner,” Patricial Buck-Welton, a material use avoidance coordinator for youth at Nutritious Communities of the Capital Area, claimed at that assembly.
Buck-Welton is a member of the Gardiner Region Thrives coalition, created up of men and women from across the 4 communities in the Gardiner-spot school district. Numerous of them spoke of their problems, which includes accessibility of marijuana to students in the district.
“Right now, we have 640 students in Gardiner Region Significant School, and 25% have self-documented they are using cannabis,” she explained. “That’s 192 college students. A single of the ways to get youth so they have confined obtain is to restrict the retail availability below in Gardiner.”
District 1 Metropolis Councilor Terry Berry claimed marijuana now is like liquor when he was growing up: Those who preferred it realized in which to get it.
“If we’re likely to restrict one particular legal business, must we go again and limit yet another authorized business?” Berry mentioned. “I’m a no cost-organization individual. If you are going to start limiting small business, I cannot notify you how several remarks I’ve listened to above the past 12 to 18 months: ‘We have much too quite a few hair salons on H2o Street. Are we heading to restrict the variety of hair salons?’ You have to allow for the market place to operate alone out.”
At the meeting, McMahan stated if a limit ended up to be imposed, corporations that have submitted license programs should really be allowed to carry on.
“We experienced our eyes on Gardiner,” McMahan said very last 7 days. “Gardiner stood out at first since if its proximity to Augusta. We’re up in Augusta a whole lot of instances performing function in the State Residence. Out of all the towns that are encompassing Augusta, we constantly felt that Gardiner has a large amount of tradition and identity to it.”
But, he stated, he did not imagine Gardiner would turn into a marijuana desired destination due to the fact of the restrict on the variety of retail stores in downtown.
“While there might not look to be a good deal of hashish in Gardiner, there has been for a prolonged time. It is just been in the arms of the black market place,” he said. “We’re rather much into the method of legalization, and part of that is coming out of the shadows and into the light.”
McMahan stated the crystal clear or legal marketplace, with its controls and rules, has the best likelihood to restrict access to cannabis. And in states where an grownup market exists, he stated, there has not been an raise in use by minors.
He explained communities that have opted in are fielding lots of telephone calls these days cannabis corporations.
“The market place is psyched ideal now,” he mentioned. “We’ll see a whole lot of sites opening up, and in the future pair of several years, we’ll see that stage out to a realistic sum of companies in every municipality.”
In Lewiston, which has a number of health care cannabis outlets now, citizens are deciding upon to acquire from retailers rather than on the black marketplace, in accordance to McMahan.
“That is a big win,” he mentioned. “We’re examining IDs. We have to check IDs. We want to. We’re liable small business entrepreneurs who are hugely controlled. We’re advertising a regulated merchandise to the individuals the condition says we’re allowed to sell it it.”
The Town Council agreed to refer the matter to the city’s Ordinance Review Committee, which will take a seem at what other communities are carrying out — among the other factors — ahead of sending a suggestion back to the Metropolis Council.