When Gardiner elected officials meet Wednesday, they are scheduled to consider whether to put in place a temporary ban on allowing additional medical marijuana caregiver shops to open in Gardiner.

“These places are springing up, and we’re trying to get a handle on the best way to regulate them,” Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett said Monday. “This is an emergency proposal that’s retroactive to July 9. Anything not in the pipeline by then would be subject to the moratorium.”

While many cities and towns are waiting for state rules to be established that govern retail sales of recreational pot, they are now considering imposing limits on the number of medical marijuana retail shops.

Gardiner is already home to two medical marijuana caregiver shops, which would be unaffected by the temporary ban.

Across the region, the number of caregiver shops opening has been on the rise, including new shops in Hallowell, Manchester and Gardiner. In many locations, the owners cycle medical marijuana patients.

The state’s original medical marijuana law allowed caregivers to grow pot to supply up to five card-carrying medical marijuana patients at one time. That practice has evolved so that now, some caregivers cycle patients, serving five, then discharging one or more of them and taking on a like number of new patients. That expands the potential pool of patients that each caregiver can serve.

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers passed L.D. 1539, An Act to Amend Maine’s Medical Marijuana Law. Among the changes is a provision authorizing registered caregivers to operate retail shops to sell to qualifying patients, which also recognizes the ability of cities and towns to regulate those retail shops.

Earlier this year, Augusta city officials put a temporary ban in place on medical marijuana shops.

Matt Nazar, Augusta’s development director, said the city placed a moratorium in May so there wouldn’t be a concern about medical marijuana storefronts before state rules are in place.

“(The moratorium) was based on the existing police power in anticipation of what the Legislature was going to be doing, and we expected they would adopt regulations,” Nazar said.

In the wording of Gardiner’s proposed ban, “the unregulated location and operation of medical marijuana retail stores within the city raises legitimate and substantial questions about the impact of such an activity.” Those questions include whether the shops are compatible with existing land uses and development in the city; whether the city’s infrastructure can accommodate those shops; and what happens in the event of unlawful sales.

“This is a measure to say, ‘Stop, hold on and see,'” Harnett said.

To put the 180-day ban in place requires the affirmative vote of five of the eight members of the council, he said.

The City Council has scheduled an executive session for 6 p.m., at the start of the meeting, to discuss a real estate matter. Depending on the outcome of the discussion, it may vote to approve a credit enhancement agreement during the public part of the meeting for a business in the Libby Hill Business Park.

The City Council is also expected to:

• Appoint Kelly Gooldrup as city clerk.

• Appoint Christine Landes as city manager.

• Discuss the upcoming project to replace the Bridge Street and Maine Avenue bridges.

• Discuss the city’s dog ordinance.

• Consider a special event permit for Barks in the Park on Sept. 8 in the Waterfront Park.

• Consider a liquor license renewal for The Bench, at 418 Water St.

• Consider accepting a $5,000 grant for sidewalk improvement from AARP.

• Consider approving City Council minutes.

The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m., Wednesday in the Gardiner City Council Chamber at 6 Church St.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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