Franklin County opts-in for state marijuana cultivation program for unorganized territory


FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to opt-in to all four tiers of the state adult use marijuana cultivation program for the unorganized territory. They also approved two contracts for services at the jail.

The vote on marijuana means that those eligible in the unorganized territory can go through the state marijuana licensing process to grow marijuana. Each tier allows a different amount of marijuana growth.

Now that it is approved, the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission will create respective ordinances that deal with zoning and land use on marijuana where marijuana can be grown in the unorganized territory.

Family members of Ashley Surles, who grew up in Maine and lives in California, were at the commission meeting, while Surles and Amanda Melnick of Maine Cannabis Consultants participated through Zoom. Surles has a license in California to grow medical marijuana in a 10,000-square-foot area.

Surles who plans to move back to Maine, will go through the licensing process for a cultivation establishment. The family has 300 acres in western Freeman Township.

“There will be a lot of security,” Melnick said.

The state has strict regulations on security, including full security alarm system, cameras, fire suppression system and other aspects, she said.

The plan is not to grow outdoors but in some type of facility like a greenhouse, she said. Following the commissioners’ vote, Surles could be seen clapping her hands.

In other business, commissioners approved contracts for behavioral and mental services and pretrial services at the jail. The county received one proposal for each service.

They accepted MedPro Associates for mental health and behavioral services for $45,000 for a year.  The company already provides medical services to inmates at the jail, Major Doug Blauvelt, jail administrator, said.

MedPro is a small Maine correctional medical service company providing medical, mental health, substance abuse and training services to county jails in Maine, according to its website.

The contract also has options for two more years at 3% increase each year, Blauvelt said.

Commissioners also approved the bid by Maine Pretrial Services Inc. of Augusta for $75,768 to provide service for a year. The contract also has options for two more years at a 3% increase each year. It is a nonprofit agency providing pretrial bail supervision of defendants who are charged with crimes or probation violations and might otherwise have to wait in jail until trial, according to its website.

The service is usually court-ordered and saves on bed space at the jail. People who are ordered to participate have to meet in person and go through substance abuse screening.

“They do a fantastic job,” Blauvelt said.

It is Maine Pretrial’s first increase in two years, he said.

Both current contracts expire on June 30. The new contracts will go into effect on July 1.


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