3 Portland sites eyed for medical marijuana dispensaries

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PORTLAND — Twenty-nine applicants – including at least two with eyes on Portland – will find out July 9 if they are among eight selected to open the state’s first medical marijuana distribution centers.

Applications were due to the state June 25. Six applicants applied to open a dispensary in District 2, which encompasses Cumberland County.

Although applicants did not have to identify specific addresses for their proposed dispensaries, they did have to reveal the general area, according to Department of Health and Human Services spokesman John Martins. DHHS is the department overseeing regulation and operation of the facilities.

At least two of the 29 applicants are in Portland. One of them, Northeast Patients Group, has applied to open five dispensaries in the state. The group is affiliated with Berkeley Patients Group, which runs dispensaries in California.

Dan Walker, an attorney with Preti Flaherty who is working with Northeast Patients Group, has inquired with the city about two specific locations: the former Key Bank building at the corner of St. John and Congress streets and the former Rent-A-Center building at the corner of Franklin and Somerset streets.

City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said another interested party, represented by attorney Michael Vaillancourt of Ainsworth, Thelin & Raftice, has inquired about zoning regulating cultivation of medical marijuana at 135 Walton St.

Both attorneys were informed by the city’s legal counsel that zoning regulating marijuana dispensaries is currently under review by the Planning Board and are expected to be taken up by the City Council July 19. The council specifically instructed the board to consider allowing dispensaries in the B-3, B-7 and B-2 zones.

Maine voters last November approved allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Earlier this year, a state task force created rules governing the dispensaries. A legislative committee in May reviewed the task force recommendations and made some of its own, including creating eight districts and limiting dispensaries to one per district.

The applications are currently being reviewed by DHHS. Applicants will be scored on convenience of location, patient education, inventory, quality control, security, staffing and prior business experience.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net