DRESDEN — Brian Fifield answered questions for more than an hour about his proposed medical marijuana greenhouse during a public meeting in Dresden Tuesday night.

Fifield plans to build a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse to grow medicinal marijuana, and more than 20 people posed questions about security, his intentions and his plans for the property.

The Planning Board found Fifield’s application complete during its meeting last month. He submitted the application for the construction of a greenhouse for the purpose of growing medical marijuana on a 50-acre plot of land he owns on Dodge Road.

Fifield, of Casco, is licensed and registered by the state to participate in the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, and he’s designated as a caregiver with rights to grow the plant.

“I’d like to build a greenhouse to cultivate marijuana for my cancer patients,” Fifield said. He plans to grow about 30 plants for the five patients under his care, or about six plants per patient. He’s currently growing several marijuana plants on the site, and he didn’t need the town’s approval for that.

The majority of the people in attendance said they didn’t know about the public meeting until they read about it in several local newspapers.

Jeffrey Pierce, chair of the town’s Planning Board, said notice of the meeting was posted at the town office and at other places around Dresden. He noted the Planning Board hadn’t received any feedback from the community, but several people, including Arlene Cousins, said that was because nobody knew about the meeting.

The majority of the concerns from those in attendance centered on the security of the property. Fifield said there will be an eight-foot privacy fence and security cameras around the premises. He stressed that there will be somebody at the site around the clock, and Fifield said his goal is to eventually build a house there.

“I think video security is the strongest thing in this day and age,” Fifield said. “There are no blurry spots, and if you’re not a medical patient, I cannot help you.”

He said a lot of the strains of marijuana he grows do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principle psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Fifield said everyone knows someone who is sick and “they all need our help.”

The Planning Board considers Fifield’s proposal a major project and an agriculture product and processing use under the town’s land use and development ordinance. That ordinance requires a permit for conditional use by the Planning Board as well as a building permit from the town’s code enforcement officer. The permit allows for a structure larger than 5,000 square feet, but Fifield is unsure of the exact size of the greenhouse.

Fifield’s application said the greenhouse would grow marijuana to “help ease the pain and suffering of state-licensed sick and/or terminally ill cancer patients.” He hopes to begin construction on the Dodge Road site this month and expects to complete the project by the spring. There is no power on the property, and Fifield indicated he plans on using solar energy to power the greenhouse.

The property abuts the town of Alna, and Pierce said Alna officials were informed of Fifield’s intent to build a medical marijuana greenhouse on the property. The officials, Pierce said, did not have any concerns and didn’t send a representative to the meeting.

While a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse for growing 30 plants for five people might seem too big, Fifield said his plants need a lot of open space and that he also grows other non-marijuana plants that are provided to his patients.

“It’s a very difficult plant to grow,” he said. “Most people don’t grow it themselves because they’re either too sick or don’t have the means.”

It is more common to have someone growing cannabis in their homes or dedicated grow rooms on their property, said Catherine Lewis, chairwoman of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine Trade Association. But some people can’t or don’t grow where they live, so they use facilities in other areas.

Maine became one of the first states in the country to legalize marijuana for medical use when it enacted the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 1999. A new act, which repealed and replaced the old one, was enacted in 2009.

In November, Maine voters will decide Question 1, which would legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana, regulate it and tax it.

If the question passes in November, Fifield would have to return to the Planning Board in order to grow marijuana for recreational use. Pierce said conditions of Fifield’s use will prohibit him from growing recreational marijuana.

The Planning Board hosted a site walk of the property before the meeting.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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