Deerfield planners OK medical marijuana dispensary

For the Gazette
Thursday, March 16, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Local residents might soon be able to fill medical marijuana prescriptions without leaving town.

During Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting, the seven-member board voted to approve New England Patient Network’s proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 4 Greenfield Road. If all goes as planned, an existing 1960s-era house will be renovated into a medical facility, and security measures such as fencing and cameras will be installed.

The project will have one entrance, if approved by the state, on Routes 5 and 10. If that happens, the property’s current entrance, into the Sugarloaf Shops, will be blocked off.

While some board members expressed apprehension about the project, ultimately, it was approved because the house, on roughly 4 acres of commercially zoned land, falls inside a previously defined medical marijuana overlay district. One member voted against the project, another abstained from voting and five voted to approve the plans.

Currently, New England Patient Network has a Provisional Certificate of Registration to dispense medical marijuana — essentially the state’s stamp of approval.

Last year, the nonprofit organization signed a three-year agreement with the Select Board, allowing the town to take no less than 2 percent of the dispensary’s gross profit during that time. If it opens, the dispensary will offer several types of medical marijuana strains, which will be used in various products such as patches, topical products and creams.

Proposed bylaw changes

Also during the meeting, town Building Commissioner Richard Calisewski presented a draft zoning amendment to the town’s marijuana cultivation and processing facilities bylaws.

The draft article, which the Planning Board wants to put before the town for a vote at annual Town Meeting, expands where marijuana can be grown in town. Under the town’s current bylaw, cannabis can only be grown in the overlay district, which is in the industrial section of town. Under the proposed bylaw expansion, essentially, farmers would be able to grow marijuana in fields.

The proposal was requested by the Select Board. On April 3, a public hearing will be held seeking public comment regarding the draft amendment. This year’s annual Town Mis scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 24.