A vote taken by Selectmen on Monday could bring Natick one step closer to a medical marijuana dispensary.
NATICK – Selectmen aren’t ready to sign on the dashed line to bring a medical marijuana pharmacy to town, but they’re getting closer.
The board of directors voted 4-0 on Monday, with chairwoman Amy Mistrot abstaining, to support a so-called “Letter of Non-Opposition” if both sides can agree on a host community agreement.
The HCA is a state requirement for a city or town to find a medical marijuana dispensary. The non-objection letter is essentially the board of directors telling the state that it supports the pharmacy.
“I think it’s going to be done,” said Jeffrey Barton, chief executive officer of Bountiful Farms, minutes after the vote. “There is a clear intention that the selection men support the pharmacy by voting on the non-objection letter.”
Barton said he needed Monday’s vote to show his investors that the city supports the pharmacy.
Bountiful Farms plans to open a 4,000 square meter pharmacy at 13 Mercer Road in an office park behind the Crowne Plaza on Rte. 9.
The next steps include drawing up the final details of the host contract and a separate development contract. The latter is demanding that Bountiful Farms provide Natick with $ 20,000 annually for substance abuse and mental health services, including programs in public schools.
Selectman Michael Hickey will work with the city attorney and city staff, Barton, to work out the final details. Hickey believes the officers will need more time to get the documents right.
“We’re not far apart here. We’re moving in the right direction,” said Selectman Richard Jennett.
Additional local permits and state approval tests are required to open the pharmacy.
The HCA requires Bountiful Farms to pay 3 percent of gross sales annually to offset the city’s pharmacy-related expenses, including law enforcement and public health. The hosting agreement would prohibit the company from opening a marijuana recreational facility on the premises.
Last month, several business people who own properties in the office park said the pharmacy is not a good fit. They said it was inconsistent with what city officials told them – that the office park is a home for high tech and life science companies.
One property owner said he doesn’t see how a marijuana dispensary can stay profitable in the long term and believes Bountiful Farms will ultimately be interested in selling recreational marijuana. Another owner said a daycare center in their building was not expanding and a high-tech engineering firm refused to sign a 10-year lease after getting wind of the pharmacy.
Bountiful Farms plans to invest $ 500,000 in modernizing the pharmacy building and expects to hire about 10 people. Preference is given to residents of Natick who are qualified for the jobs.
Much of the pharmacy’s business will be delivery, Barton said.
Security is provided by the Winmill Group, a private security company based in Alexandria, Virginia. Winmill founder and president Ryan Winmill served as a homeland security specialist for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety from 2003 to 2004.
Products include marijuana buds in pipes or rolled into a joint, and marijuana-infused products, including vape cartridges, topical lotions, and edibles.
The marijuana sold at the pharmacy is grown and packaged at a Bountiful Farms facility in Lakeville, which is expected to open in the spring.
Follow Henry Schwan on Twitter @henrymetrowest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-626-3964.