Medical Marijuana Growing Facility Near Maine School Raises Eyebrows

A new medical marijuana growing facility in Richmond, Maine is less than 300 feet away from the high school and middle school — and town officials say it’s perfectly legal.

This spring, the Richmond planning board approved a permit for a grow operation at 150 Main Street, a building right next to the school entrance.

According to town records, Richmond’s attorney reviewed the permit request and determined that there was no legal basis for denying it. The medical marijuana law states that proximity to schools is only a consideration for dispensaries — and this operation is strictly a growing facility.

“It’s very difficult to explain to people why there’s a marijuana grow facility 300 feet from a school,” said Richmond Select Board Chair O’Neil LaPlante.

He said the town is “almost split 50-50,” with some concerned about the location of the grow site, and others seeing no problem with it.

The issue caught the attention of Rep. Seth Berry, (D-Bowdoinham), who has sponsored LD 1636, emergency legislation to give municipalities the authority to prohibit marijuana caregivers within 500 feet from a school.

“This will give the town some leverage,” said Rep. Berry, whose legislation has passed the House and Senate — and is now sitting on the Governor’s desk.

“A lot of parents were concerned, some law enforcement was concerned, and the entire select board wanting me to do something — so I have,” said Berry.

He said his legislation would impact future grow operations — but will not retroactively address the one near Richmond schools.

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