Selectmen agree to “letter of non-opposition” request for medical marijuana “farm”
By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Attorney Edward Bartlett, representing Middlesex Integrative Medicine, Inc. (MIM) appeared before the board along with other representatives of the company to present a proposal for a 41,000-square foot marijuana growing facility at 28 Bowditch Drive.
Shrewsbury voters approved in 2013 a state-wide ballot question to legalize medical marijuana by a 58 to 42 percent margin. According to the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services 100 finalists have applied for licenses and were judged on how they served the public health, their security and strength of their business plans, as well as their focus on the ability to meet patients’ needs. Since then, licenses have been awarded to 20 medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.
MIM was not selected by the Department of Public Health (DPH) during the first round of?applicants to receive a provisional permit in January. According to Bartlett, the company has scheduled an informal debriefing meeting with the DPH on March 7 to review its application. As such, Bartlett was appearing before the board seeking a “letter of non-opposition” from the selectmen to present to the DPH at that meeting.?
The request initially created some confusion among board members, as they stated they were unsure what such a letter meant or would imply. Bartlett explained how such a letter differed from either a letter of support or a letter of opposition. Town Manager Daniel Morgado repeatedly stated that the town's response to this request must be “agnostic” – that no support for the project must be implied at this stage in the process, to which Bartlett agreed.
The board was firm in stating that it would not support the location of a dispensary in town and that MIM needed to be clear on that stance.? Bartlett replied that MIM has applied for two such dispensaries but neither would be in or near Shrewsbury.
Selectman James Kane stated that he had opposed the 2013 vote to legalize such dispensaries, and said that he wanted it made “very clear” that MIM understood that a letter of non-opposition for the growing site would in no way equate to approval of the company opening a dispensary in Shrewsbury. Selectman Maurice DePalo added that he agreed with Kane's comments.
According to the proposal, the facility would employ 25-30 people and would include commercial transport vehicles registered in Shrewsbury. The product would be transported under the protection of a professional security company. The electricity-intensive growing facility would buy its power from Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations.
The board briefly discussed the issue and then voted unanimously to create and approve the requested “letter of non-opposition.”
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