LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen accepted three applications Tuesday in 4-1 votes for licenses for medical marijuana retail stores following a public hearing.
Vice Chairman Ernie Souther opposed the motions while Chairman Jeffrey Bryant, Jim Long, Will Kenniston and Rodney Heikkinen voted in favor of acceptance.
A fourth application, which also went to hearing, needs to have a site walk-through done by Code Enforcement Officer Jay Nichols for The Gas Station at 57 Main St. If owner Edward Symbal of Westbrook has it done before Tuesday, the board will consider it at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office.
The board will issue a written license within 15 days for the businesses it accepted applications for, unless the issuance of the license would violate any provision of the Medical Marijuana Establishment Licensing Ordinance. Voters adopted it on Nov. 2 by a vote of 482-257.
Prior to the Select Board making decisions, proposed conditions on signs and marketing were introduced for the first time. The board took no action. Language in the ordinance on signs is vague.
The ordinance went through about seven drafts and a review by the town attorney before it went to voters.
Board Chairman Jeffrey Bryant said he would like an attorney to look at the proposed conditions to make sure everything is legal.
During discussion, Souther made a motion to table all decisions until the ordinance is amended to put limits on how many establishments can be in town. The motion died for lack of second.
All four applications are grandfathered, Bryant said.
“These businesses have put in a lot of time and effort to get to this point,” he said.
Town Manager Amanda Allen agreed. She said the businesses have been patient, and that she was not comfortable with the applications being tabled.
The site review applications underwent a hearing at the Planning Board level on Jan. 19 and were accepted.
Resident Bob Jones pointed out the town has a population of fewer than 3,500 and there will be four medical marijuana stores within about 1,050 feet on Main Street. He said he didn’t understand why limits on the number of establishments were not in the ordinance.
Bryant said he honestly didn’t think about it.
There was also a need to get a question drafted by Sept. 2 for the Nov. 2 ballot.
“We’re going to be known as marijuana row,” Jones said, adding it reminded him of the gold rush days.
“This is green gold,” he said.
Amanda Ricci who operates Lifeline for ME, which offers mental health and substance use disorder services, at the Central Plaza voiced concerns about marijuana signs and a medical marijuana business being next to her business. Marijuana is a substance that changes the brain, she said.
Ricci said her services are important, especially with the high rate of overdoses happening.
Some residents pointed out that marijuana is beneficial to some for pain and other illnesses.
Mark Mancini of Jay, who is seeking a license for a medical retail store, Tree Tops, at 72 Main St., next to Lifeline for ME said he would make sure his sign and marketing is respectful.
Christopher Shea of Livermore wants to open Fish Meadow Cannabis at 93 Main St. He gave information about himself and said his sign and advertisement will be tasteful. He has used medical marijuana to help him with the pain of a serious back injury. He does not take pain pills, he said.
He wants to open a store in the former Liberty Tax storefront in the Food City building. He understands that if his business negatively affects Food City’s he would have to leave. He just wants to give back to the community, he said.
Robert Tarrant of West Gardiner would like to open BJ’s Cannabis at 75 Main St. His emblem is a couple of marijuana leaves with BJ’s Cannabis on it.
No marijuana cultivation will be done at the businesses. The security systems are very good, Nichols said.
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing for two more site review applications for two retail medical marijuana stores at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Town Office. Kris Coburn wants to open Natural Thumb at 41 Main St., a vacant storefront in the Western Auto complex, and Roger Moulton wants to open The Local Joint at 7 Baldwin St.