Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to sign a community benefit agreement, and voted 3-2 to sign a letter of non-opposition, for a medical marijuana cultivation plant proposed by Olde World Remedies.
Unlike the first time a medical marijuana business came to town seeking to set up operation, when Sage Cannabis obtained a letter of non-opposition in November 2015, no one from the public spoke against Tuesday’s action. Sage Cannabis ultimately didn’t pursue its local dispensary application, citing business reasons, after strong opposition from residents and complaints to town officials about lack of input.
But the earlier uproar prompted Selectmen Craig Dauphinais and Brook Padgett to vote against the letter of non-opposition Tuesday until more public comment is solicited.
“I still feel to have one meeting on this and to sign everything away is irresponsible on our part,” Mr. Dauphinais said.
Selectman Sargon Hanna said Olde World Remedies’ proposed dispensary would be in CenTech Park, an industrial area where another medical marijuana dispensary, Nature’s Remedy, has already received non-opposition from selectmen.
Further, Mr. Hanna said when he made the motion to approve the letter, “They’ll have a million meetings with the Planning Board.”
Under the five-year community benefit agreement, Olde World Remedies will pay the town $75,000 a year, with a 3 percent annual increase. This payment does not include any sales tax that would be levied if the dispensary opens a recreational marijuana establishment.
All assets of the dispensary will be taxable.
Grafton residents will receive hiring priority.
And if town officials see an increase in addiction-related issues, the company will pay Grafton $25,000 for drug abuse prevention programs.
Representatives of Olde World Remedies said the family-owned business plans to invest $6 million in the grow operation, which would serve its retail medical dispensaries in Lynn and one or two other communities. It would build a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot operation on Millennium Drive, and employ approximately 60 people, 90 percent of whom, ideally, will be Grafton residents.
Alan Rothenberg, CEO, said he only planned to be in the medical marijuana business. He also hopes to be able to build a lab in his cultivation facility, if the state would allow it.
“I’ve started many businesses. This one is being done for medical reasons,” said Mr. Rothenberg, whose background is largely in working with the U.S. Department of Defense. He said he’s been convinced of the beneficial role medical marijuana can play in treating people with a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Mr. Rothenberg said he’s committed profits from the company to a charity he has for troubled children.
Olde World Remedies representatives agreed to attend the special town meeting Feb. 12 to answer questions from voters.
Also at the meeting, selectmen voted to sign the special town meeting warrant. The warrant includes seven articles that deal with zoning regulations and bylaws for recreational marijuana establishments.