AUGUSTA — A proposal to require medical marijuana caregiver retail store operators to obtain a city license, and to cap the number of them at 15 citywide, goes to city councilors Thursday.

The new licensing proposal would accompany other proposed changes to city land use rules meant to regulate where and how medical marijuana may be grown, processed and sold in the city.

City councilors have indicated previously they do not want to opt in to allowing any adult use recreational marijuana sales in Augusta, leaving only medical marijuana sales, which municipalities can regulate but not ban, to be allowed.

The new rules would require medical marijuana caregivers to get a license to be able to sell what they grow to patients. The licenses would have to be renewed every two years.

The current proposal would cap the total number of licenses to be issued to medical marijuana caregiver retail operations at 15, a number councilors picked after discussion of the issue at their meeting last week.

Mayor David Rollins said he’d prefer no cap on the total number, saying the market would determine how many retail stores there would be. But he agreed the city could propose capping the total number at 15, in response to some councilors who expressed concern that if the city does not limit the total number, there could be a rush of stores opening.

Attorney Kristen Collins warned against setting the cap too low, though she initially had included a cap of 10 in a draft of the proposed rules.

“There may already be 20 people, 40 people, doing this that, technically under the ordinance, would be considered caregivers operating a retail store,” Collins told councilors last week. “I threw 10 out there, but just thinking this through, it might be kind of hard to settle on a number and have it be the right number.”

David Heidrich, director of communications and senior policy advisor for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said 17 caregivers are licensed with the state in the city of Augusta, down from 28 who were licensed in the city in January.

Caregivers would have to pay fees to get licenses for each of the uses they have planned, with fees in the proposed ordinance of $600 for a medical marijuana cultivation facility, $600 for a manufacturing facility, $1,400 for a retail store, $300 for a testing facility and $200 for a caregiver operating at home as a home occupation, who under the current proposal could sell their marijuana to patients only by delivery, not at their homes.

Collins said a retail store, if it had a license to grow, process and sell medical marijuana, would be required to pay $2,600, which she said seemed reasonable.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center. Councilors also are scheduled to:

• Issue a proclamation on veteran suicide awareness;

• Hold a first reading, of two required for passage, on a proposal to alter land use rules to allow some lots in densely developed areas to be used as parking lots;

• Consider authorizing City Manager William Bridgeo to contract with the city’s designated real estate agent to list for sale for $99,500 a  home at 11 Boulder Avenue that was acquired for failure to pay property taxes;

• Consider accepting a $15,000 donation from the family of  Gov. John Fremont Hill for improvements and maintenance at Forest Grove Cemetery; and

• Consider accepting $7,500 in grant funding from Dirigo Safety LLC for the purpose of administering and enforcing underage drinking laws on behalf of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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