MA: North Adams Sees First Sparks Of Interest From Marijuana Businesses

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As the city races to pass marijuana zoning regulations, it has already received interest from prospective businesses.

Mayor Thomas Bernard has spoken with two prospective marijuana businesses in recent weeks, he confirmed to The Eagle.

“We’ve had someone interested in doing some siting,” said Bernard said.

Citing the preliminary nature of the discussions, Bernard declined to name the prospective businesses or their owners.

One of the interested businesses would be multipurpose, potentially including retail, while the other includes “cultivation as a possibility,” Bernard said.

The mayor credits the city’s efforts to draft clear zoning guidelines as a reason for the interest.

“I think it’s serious; they’re looking to North Adams as a place because of the type of process we’ve put in place, that they see as friendly to the business,” Bernard said.

Bernard said he was not surprised by the inquiries.

“If you’re looking at what’s happening all over the state, communities and businesses are trying to get their arms around what the licensing is going to allow,” Bernard said. “You have different levels of understanding — businesses that have done more homework and understand the process, and others that are interested but in a more exploratory phase.”

Late last year, former Mayor Richard Alcombright proposed a one-year moratorium on recreational marijuana in the city, asking for more time to address the city’s zoning.

Alcombright dropped the effort after it was widely panned by councilors and residents at a public meeting.

After taking office in January, Bernard quickly forged a timeline that would have the city establish zoning regulations before the state begins to accept applications for licenses from marijuana businesses.

Bernard assembled a marijuana zoning working group that drafted a proposed set of regulations last month.

The working group handed its proposal to the City Council, which has reviewed it in a Safety Committee meeting and will next hold a joint public hearing with the Planning Board on Mondayat 6 p.m. in City Council chambers in City Hall.

Without guidelines in place, the city would have little say in where prospective licensed marijuana businesses locate.

“This gives us a level of investment in defining how these businesses would be sited or potentially regulated,” Bernard said.