Friday, September 18, 2020

Windham awards two retail marijuana licenses at special town council meeting

By Ed Pierce

Shaw Dwight is the owner of Paul's Boutique
in Windham, one of two businesses that were
awarded adult-use retail marijuana licenses
by the Windham Town Council on Tuesday.
CannaRX Windham also received a retail
license from the town. Retail marijuana
sales open in Maine on Oct. 9.

Capping a long application process and review, the Windham Town Council awarded two adult marijuana retail licenses at a special council meeting on Tuesday evening.

Following a two-hour discussion and lengthy examination of seven different applications and a council vote to clarify the term “retail” as outlined in Windham’s marijuana ordinance, councilors scored each application based upon operational plan, security measures, safety, experience, product handling, any violations on record and other specific criteria.  The top two businesses scoring the highest, Paul’s Boutique and CannaRX Windham RSL, were then awarded provisional one-year retail licenses pending verification of the collection of sales taxes in other communities.

Before any scoring was unveiled, Councilor Clayton Haskell said he would abstain from voting or scoring applicants. 

Prior to scoring each application for the adult-use licenses, each applicant was given three minutes on Zoom to present their last-minute arguments for why they should be awarded a license by the council. Representatives of six of the seven applicants spoke, with each one thanking councilors for their diligence in carefully reviewing volumes of documentation regarding each application.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said that each application was well over 100 pages and that the review process was extensive and time consuming.

“Hours were spent reading through them,” Tibbetts said. “Councilors spent more than two days reading applications and I want the public to know that a tremendous amount of work and effort went into getting us to this point tonight.”

During the meeting, town attorney Kristin Collins advised councilors on how to score categories, including how to rate one section of the town ordinance that asked applicants to list retail experience in locations other than in Windham.

Town Council Chairman Jarrod Maxfield said he understood the ordinance term “retail” as having a storefront and clearly defined hours of operation with customers coming and going, but other councilors suggested that they understood “retail” to mean having paid sales taxes for transactions to other communities. A vote was taken, with councilors David Nadeau, Nicholas Kalogerakis, David Douglass, Timothy Nangle and Brett Jones voting for sales tax collection to define “retail” and Maxfield voting for it to mean an actual storefront elsewhere.

Under the scoring system, Paul’s Boutique accumulated a total of 15.58 points, with CannaRX Windham RSL coming in with 14.67 points. Next in line was Jar Co. at 14.33 points, followed by Kind & Co. with 13,67 points, Sticky Bud with 12.75 points, Legal Leaf at 10.25 points and Maine’s Alternative Caring with 9.83 points.

Before a motion was made to award the licenses, Councilor Timothy Nangle told applicants that the
town would ensure details contained in the applications were being adhered to.

“We’re going to hold you to everything you submitted in your application,” Nangle said.

Councilor Brett Jones said he was glad to see the application and review process finally come to an end for the adult-use retail licenses.

“Personally, I would give licenses to all the applicants,” Councilor Brett Jones said. “I don’t feel this is the right way of going about it but that’s my personal opinion. I followed the criteria and made decisions based upon what was in front of me.”

Maxfield said he was grateful to all who participated in the process.

“I just want to say thanks to everyone, to the council, the staff and to the community,” Maxfield said. “We’ve done the best we can.”

Under state law, the first day that adult-use retail marijuana sales may be made is Oct. 9. Under terms of Windham’s marijuana ordinance adopted by councilors in May, successful applicants must pay $2,500 to the town for the adult-use retail licenses.

Previously Tibbetts has said that Windham will use money collected from the licensing fees for substance-abuse education and prevention, but the specifics for that have yet to be worked out by the council.        

Councilors also voted during the special meeting to extend a public hearing regarding the awarding of caregiver licenses and four medical marijuana storefront licenses in town to the council’s Sept. 22 meeting. <       

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