Where to put the pot?

By KEGAN ZEMA  |  July 14, 2010

PROS Easiest accessibility by public transport | Decent access from highway | Falls in Marshall's proposed zoning area | Close proximity to social services, hospital
CONS Some sites with limited parking | Downtown traffic | Too small to house a grow operation

157 Somerset Avenue

The old Rent-A-Center across from Whole Foods is probably the best compromise when it comes to accommodating access by public transport and by car. Northeast Patients Group also looked at this spot briefly, according to Daniel Walker, who has helped the company with legal work, but he says it wasn't as likely as the Congress Street location. The biggest drawback is while a bus line runs right by it, the nearest stops may be too far away to be manageable for patients in chronic pain (obvious solution: METRO could add a stop).

PROS Right off I-295 | Plenty of parking | Can handle any size facility | Close proximity to social services
CONS Limited public transportation | Tough walk for patients

Pine Tree Shopping Center

On Brighton Avenue just before the border of Westbrook, a dispensary in this area would certainly lie well outside the downtown area. While that would mean a longer bus ride for patients from the city, the shopping center is right off I-95, allowing for more access by from surrounding towns. Marshall specifically said he was not supporting a dispensary outside the downtown area; according to his proposed legislation this area would not be zoned for it. If you've got a car, a dispensary on Brighton Avenue is no big deal — make the drive and stock up. When it comes to serving the whole county, this is a top pick, but for those adamant about a downtown dispensary, this would certainly be a curveball.

PROS Best access for whole county | Plenty of parking | Able to handle high traffic
CONS Limited access by public transportation | Longer drive for downtown patients | Limited access to social services

Mill Creek, South Portland

South Portland officials have been finicky about where they want a dispensary to go. Mayor Tom Coward said he expects the dispensary to be a large operation if it is serving the whole county, and wants to make sure his city is prepared. He said he did not support a dispensary in Mill Creek, mostly because of its proximity to both schools and a park. A facility there would certainly be out of the way for most non-Portland-area residents, and would only work if it were a low-key operation. Perhaps not the best choice for the first dispensary, Mill Creek should remain a viable option for future dispensaries. Of course, if marijuana is legal in a few years, as Coward suggests, "all bets are off and they will sell it at Hannaford's."

PROS Access by multiple bus lines | Short drive from most Portland-area locations | Smaller, community feel
CONS 15-minute drive from both major highways | Close to a park and schools

Gorham Road, South Portland

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Related: Portland’s medical-pot prognosis: Keep patients waiting, Smoke Local, Patrick Kennedy's unexpected challenge to marijuana legalization, More more >
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