CHELSEA — Town officials are putting the finishing touches on a licensing ordinance for medical marijuana stores that could be put in front of town voters.

Town Manager Scott Tilton said the ordinance seeks to add regulations for the businesses and perhaps create a small revenue stream for the town. The new ordinance, which outlines new licensing procedures for medical marijuana retail stores, would have to be approved by town residents. It is likely going to be taken up at the Nov. 5 elections but could be stretched to June 2020 if it not ready for November.

Chelsea town manager Scott Tilton

The draft ordinance does not limit medical marijuana businesses and does not apply to any adult-use marijuana establishments. Tilton said the town has not opted-in to allowing adult-use marijuana businesses.

Tilton said there are three medical marijuana stores in Chelsea, all on River Road. The most noticeable store is Hive Medicinal at 65 River Road, near the Augusta line. He said he does not know the other two stores’ names, only that their addresses are at 127 River Road and 504 River Road.

A public hearing on a draft of the ordinance was held on Aug. 29 before a regular select board meeting. Selectwoman Deb Sanderson said during the hearing that a draft requirement of a release that allowed town officials to background-check applicants could be redundant because a state license, which would be required to obtain a local license, already requires a background check. Selectman Ben Smith argued that it could be a fail-safe in case the state made a mistake during its check.

Planning Board member Sheri Truman said she supported the background check clause because it was “good practice,” saying that her husband, a contractor working with hazardous materials, undergoes background checks regularly.

Truman also said she supported a “hefty fee” for licensing due to the “different risks and liabilities” of marijuana businesses. Tilton said Tuesday that a larger fee is fair because of the administrative cost for the town. The draft ordinance said applicants cannot receive a license unless the town’s Fire Chief, Health Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer make “positive recommendations” about the applicant’s ability to adhere to the ordinance.

On a potential fee, Tilton said he was still researching and did not have a recommendation but he didn’t think it was “going to be a huge sum of money.”

Across the river in Hallowell, medical marijuana retail store operators must pay a $250 license fee, according to City Clerk Diane Polky.

Licenses can be revoked or applications denied if the licensee fails to meet requires, is younger than 21 years old, not a Maine resident, has had a previous medical marijuana business license revoked by the town or state, the licensee has been convicted of a crime arising out of the operation of a medical marijuana business or provided false or misleading information during the application process.

The draft ordinance said medical marijuana retail stores must have an odor mitigation system and discourage loitering on the premises.

A copy of the draft ordinance is available on the town’s website, chelseamaine.org.

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