AUGUSTA — The city shouldn’t allow medical marijuana to be sold from campers — or anywhere else that doesn’t have a permanent foundation.

That was the recommendation of the Augusta Planning Board on Tuesday night, effectively squashing a local caregiver’s plans to sell medical marijuana from his camper-trailer though his business, Weed on Wheels Maine.

Giovanni DelVecchio is the Augusta caregiver who proposed to sell medical marijuana from a camper he spent thousands of dollars to renovate into a retail space. He said Wednesday he is frustrated to have apparently wasted so much time and money on his apparently to-be-banned business model, but is looking to regroup and sell his medical marijuana from a building.

“There’s no reason I can’t run an effective, safe, medical marijuana business from my camper,” DelVecchio said. “But they wrote the law to keep me from doing this, so what they’ve done is remove a very viable way of getting this product into end users’ hands.

“I didn’t want to fight this camper battle, I don’t have pockets deep enough to fight them,” he added. “I just want to take care of my patients.”

The board voted 5-0 Tuesday that the city should require any medical marijuana retail sales operations to be located in a structure with a permanent foundation. The board vote is a recommendation to city councilors, who will have the final say.

Board members expressed concerns that a camper couldn’t be adequately secured and could be targeted by thieves looking for marijuana. They also expressed concern about the aesthetics of someone selling marijuana from a camper in the city.

“We were all pretty much in agreement that security and a travel trailer, parking, and traffic access were all issues,” said Planning Board member Bob Corey. “And I was told earlier today a retail (marijuana) store was robbed, I think that it was a mobile unit that was selling marijuana that got robbed.”

DelVecchio said his camper would meet the same security standards imposed on medical marijuana retail stores in buildings. He noted that it would be surrounded by decking that’d make it difficult to move, and he planned to use the same security company they do to ensure no robberies take place from his business.

He said he’s since heard from officials of the state’s marijuana program, who he said previously indicated to him state law did not ban the sale of medical marijuana from campers, that now they believe such sales are not permissible.

DelVecchio said the state requires medical marijuana sales take place from a permanent address, and other Maine laws do not allow campers to be considered as permanent addresses, restricting their use to 120 days per year.

Officials of the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy could not immediately be reached Wednesday for information on whether medical marijuana may be sold by caregivers out of campers.

DelVecchio said he wants to operate out of a camper for several reasons, including less expensive overhead that would allow him to sell his marijuana to patients at lower prices. He also said its small size would be easier to clean, and allow only one patient or a couple at a time to be served, complying with state regulations meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A camper, DelVecchio said, also would allow him to serve more people in rural areas and give the business flexibility to relocate if a specific area wasn’t working. The military veteran also said he wants to help fellow veterans, as well as people who need affordable medical marijuana.

DelVecchio credited medical marijuana for saving his life, noting that he has battled addiction in the past, but hasn’t had a drink of alcohol in a year and a half. He said using medical marijuana brings him a sense of relief, helps control anxiety, and puts his mind and body at ease at the end of the day.

With his efforts to open a mobile operation seemingly stymied, DelVecchio said he’s now looking to go the more conventional route with a building. He said he’s already prepared with the licenses he’d need to do so.

“I’m ready to open, I need a building,” DelVecchio said.

The board also recommended the city adopt a proposal put together by city staff for a licensing system for other mobile businesses — such as Christmas tree sales — that would allow vendors to apply for one license per year to sell retail items from campers or in parking lots seasonally — for up to 120 days a year.

Deputy City Planner Betsy Poulin said the licensing rules would allow vendors to have more than one location in the city for seasonal retail sales from somewhere other than a building with a foundation, as long as they get a permit.

“Then we have an opportunity to keep an eye on the land use, hours of operation, and make sure it’s not going to be disruptive,” Poulin said, adding that food trucks already have their own licensing system.

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