The Highbrow medical marijuana storefront in Topsham. The company plans to expand into Bath with a recreational marijuana dispensary, which received planning board approval Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Highbrow

BATH — The third time was the charm for Bath’s first recreational marijuana facility, which received planning board approval Tuesday after months of delays. 

Highbrow, a medical marijuana chain with locations in Topsham, Manchester and Waldoboro, is planning to open its first recreational store in Bath on Leeman Highway southbound, next to the U.S. Cellular store. Another location in Rockland is expected to open this spring. 

The Bath Planning Board initially denied the application because of “holes” in the plan concerning parking, landscaping and traffic flow, city planner Ben Averill told The Times Record in November. 

Then, last month, it was denied yet again because the site plan did not have details about landscaping. 

“Every site has its challenges,” said Charles Doherty, who helped found the company with co-owners Jason Brossi and Noah Rosen. “This is the way Bath wants us to do it.”

Rochelle Stacy, Highbrow business manager said she and the owners are “thrilled” to have planning board approval, and are ready to get to work in Bath. 

“It feels like a very up and coming city, there’s a lot of revitalization,” she said Wednesday. “The downtown is unbelievable, people are super receptive, it’s really exciting for us.” 

With the Topsham location, they already have a Bath customer base in the area, and look forward to growing, she said. 

With the planning board hurdles out of the way, Highbrow owners still need to obtain local and state retail licenses. Doherty said earlier he has applied for both licenses and is waiting for approval. 

The Maine Office of Marijuana Policy announced last month that state retail license applications are now available to business owners.

Brossi told the planning board Tuesday that they submitted their application in the second week of December, and were among the first dozen applications in the state. Maine has 90 days to issue a decision, and Brossi hopes to hear back soon. 

According to Rochelle Stacy, Highbrow business manager, they hope to be on the next city council agenda for approval for the local license. 

The council and the community “seemed very receptive” to recreational adult-use marijuana when the ordinance approved, but as the first in Bath and one of the first in the state, she anticipates there will be questions. “I don’t think it will be a quick 30-second approval because it’s so new to everybody,” she said Wednesday, but “I’m anticipating it will go smoothly.” 

According to Bath’s retail rules, recreational and medical marijuana stores are required to install security measures, including 24-hour surveillance, and passers-by should not be able to smell marijuana from outside the building.

Bath’s rules also set a 500-foot buffer around schools, licensed childcare facilities, public parks, substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment centers and halfway houses. No two retail stores and dispensaries can open within 300 feet of each other.

Highbrow owners also hope to expand into the U.S. Cellular building next door to house a medical marijuana store, a plan that was also approved Tuesday in conjunction with the recreational storefront. 

Highbrow remains the only business that has applied for a recreational marijuana retail license from Bath, Averill said. Once open, it will be Bath’s only marijuana store. Wellness Connection, a medical marijuana dispensary operating in the city since before the referendum and grandfathered in under the ordinance, relocated to South Portland at the end of November, according to the company website. 

Highbrow and Bath officials are both equally excited for work to start on the building, which has been vacant for over a decade, Averill said. 

“It’s a pretty big eyesore,” Doherty said last month. “I think just about everyone would appreciate something different than what’s there now.” 

With the approval, construction and renovations can begin, Stacy said, adding that if everything goes smoothly, they may be able to open sometime in April. 

“I think you’ll be happy with the final result of the property,” Brossi told the planning board. 


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