The agenda item of the Windham Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 9th that brought the crowds into the Town Council Chamber was: “To discuss and act on the continuation of the Retail Adult-Use and Medical Task Force”.
The discussion began with Interim Town Manager, Don Gerrish, giving a historical background of the issue at hand. He explained that the council had a workshop on June 25th with the town attorney and at the workshop the council made a tentative decision on marijuana options in Windham. Due to that meeting and based upon the outcome, Gerrish explained that he cancelled the Taskforce meeting, admitting that he made an assumption without the direction of the Council.
The floor was then open for public comment with Maggie Terry, co-owner of Legal Leaf the first to speak.
She expressed that she felt the task force was not being heard by town leadership and believed, as a chair of that task force, she had not received any guidance from the council. Terry also mentioned that she had heard there were some complaints about the cannabis industry and when she asked what those complaints were so they could be addressed, she received no response. Terry reiterated, “the owners of the cannabis industry are hardworking and family oriented and Windham can benefit from this business. The cannabis community wants to work together for the best of all involved.”
She presented more than 200 signatures for all legal use marijuana options.
Joanne Mattiace, also of Legal Leaf, spoke to the council about her concern regarding the town attorney’s work with a cannabis company. “The law firm that represents the town and advises the council simultaneously advises a cannabis company,” she said. “It’s critical that we consider if this is a conflict of interest. Any advice by the legal council [at the above-mentioned meeting] may have been bias.”
Mattiace asked the council the following questions:
When did the law firm’s representation begin? Which client did it serve first?
Was the duo representation made known to the town?
Who advised on this matter?
What is the specific billing arrangement with the law firm?
Response from Council:
Councilwoman Donna Chapman reiterated that the Council did not know about the cancellation of the task force meeting and intends to make sure that everything will get back on track. She suggested that with signatures it be put on the ballot for public vote in November. In regard to the Town Attorney, if there is a problem it will be looked into. “The only thing we are saying ‘No’ to right now is adult use grow stores. We try to listen to both sides of the voters.”
Councilmen Jarrod Maxfield stated that he does believe the task force should continue and concurred with Chapman that if there is a problem with the law firm and a potential conflict of interest, research in the matter should occur.
Councilwomen Rebecca Cummings admitted that she was torn about continuing the task force because, “Since we voted ‘no” for adult use – I do not want to have the task force members leave their families every week to meet on the committee. But at the same time, perhaps a compromise could be made.”
For more details about the meeting and to hear opinions from members of the task force, the minutes and video can be found at: www.windhammaine.us/