Falmouth panel reviews retail marijuana uses

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FALMOUTH — A Town Council committee is working on recommendations for rules governing retail marijuana operations.

The goal is to report back to the council in November after the committee has had a chance to do some preliminary investigation and also hear from residents in a public hearing.

Falmouth, like many neighboring towns, has a moratorium preventing any retail marijuana business from opening. The recreational use of marijuana by adults was legalized on the state level during a referendum last fall.

But the new law allows local communities to make their own rules regarding the regulation of everything from grow operations to social clubs, including the ability to ban them all together.

Falmouth’s Ad Hoc Marijuana Committee, made up of Councilors Karen Farber, Andy Jones and Claudia King, was scheduled to have its second meeting Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Town Hall. The agenda included getting input from Superintendent of Schools Geoff Bruno.

Jones, who heads the committee, said the group also plans to hear from the Police Department at an upcoming meeting.

“Our goal is to (determine how best to) implement the state recreational marijuana law on the municipal level,” he said. “We are going to reach out to stakeholders and come back to the full council with a recommendation.”

According to Jones, there are five different retail uses associated with recreational marijuana: farm, factory, testing lab, store, and social club.

“As a town, we can allow or ban any of the five. If we allow a particular use, we can set up a permitting system and come up with specific restrictions, such as limiting hours of operation or where in town a business can be (located),” he said.

Specifically, the committee’s charge is to “evaluate and recommend general parameters, deciding which of the five retail marijuana uses may be permissible.”

Jones said the committee’s biggest concerns are public safety and underage use of marijuana, which is why members wanted to hear from Bruno.

At its first meeting, held in mid-July, the committee agreed that its mission is not “to debate the merits of (recreational) marijuana, but to decide if we want it in our town.”

In making its final recommendation to the council, the committee must take into account any zoning amendments or new licensing requirements that might be needed to regulate retail marijuana enterprises.

In addition, the committee must also consider the actions of neighboring towns, some of which, like Cumberland, have already decided to ban all retail marijuana operations.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The Falmouth Town Council has set up a committee to review whether any retail marijuana uses should be allowed in town. The goal is for the committee to report back to the council by November.

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