FORT KENT, Maine — Safe Alternatives, Aroostook County’s first state-approved medical marijuana growing facility, is up and running in Frenchville with a contact list of close to a dozen people with conditions ranging from terminal cancer to multiple sclerosis requesting the herbal drug.
What is lacking, according to Leo Trudel, the business’s co-founders and spokesman, is a municipally approved dispensary for their product.
Since August, Trudel, a business professor at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, has been working with Frenchville municipal officials to open a medical marijuana dispensary on property he currently owns in that town.
Early this month residents voted down an ordinance governing dispensing and cultivating medical marijuana within town limits and imposed an additional 180-day moratorium on the issue.
The move marked the second time voters went for the 180-day moratorium which was initially approved in November.
“Frenchville [officials] originally issued Safe Alternatives a building permit to renovate the property knowing full well what our intent was,” Trudel said this past week from his UMFK office. “I was totally upfront and transparent on what Safe Alternatives was planning to do.”
Safe Alternatives is one of eight medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services last June and the only one in Aroostook County.
Frenchville’s proposed ordinance is based on one approved by the city of Caribou and, as Trudel said, “tweaked” by Frenchville’s select board.
As presented by that committee, the ordinance has several provisions that target Safe Alternatives’ ability to conduct business, according to Trudel.