AUGUSTA — Emergency legislation designed to give cities and towns temporary authority to regulate the location of marijuana grow facilities is now law.

Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill June 23, giving cities and towns temporary authority to impose limits on how close to public and private schools that marijuana grown by caregivers can be cultivated in new or expanding facilities. Cities and towns now can restrict caregivers from growing pot any closer than 500 feet from a school property line in land-use ordinances.

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, introduced the emergency legislation earlier this month when Richmond town officials found they had no grounds to deny an application for a proposed caregiver facility that’s less than 300 feet away from Richmond Middle/High School. Berry’s district includes Richmond.

150 Main LLC has proposed to convert 30,000 square feet of vacant industrial space into a secure marijuana grow facility that will be sectioned off and leased to individual caregivers.

The law has a sunset date of July 1, 2018, but Berry said Thursday that the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation is expected to take on a host of marijuana-related bills in the next legislative session. That list includes a measure granting cities and towns permanent authority to restrict how close a medical marijuana grow facility can be to schools.

Berry said there is a bill that addresses this issue specifically, but also includes commercial establishments listed in the statewide referendum to legalize pot that Maine voters narrowly approved in November 2016.

“This is the same approach we take with respect to other land-use compatibility and planning issues,” Berry said. “This is a new thing for Maine that the law doesn’t give municipalities the authority which they have in other areas like retail sales or industrial uses.”

Before this, state law had no such restrictions in place for caregivers.

The law does not affect any facility that’s already in place, including the one planned for Richmond.

Catherine Lewis, the president of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade association geared to supporting and promoting safe access to medical marijuana for patients and caregivers, said she’s not sure proximity to schools is a big concern among her group’s members.

“They are all under the assumption there was a limit,” Lewis said. “They assumed it was already the case.”

Her organization does not oppose cities and towns being given the authority to put ordinances in place that restrict where caregiver facilities can go.

“We just don’t want to see patient access restricted, and they are not going to caregiver facilities anyway,” she said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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