By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – The Grafton Board of Selectmen held a public hearing Nov. 17 regarding a request for a letter of non-opposition for Milford Medicinals, a company seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 206 Worcester St., (Route 122). The company currently operates a registered marijuana dispensary in Milford, Mass.
Grafton would be Milford Medicinals’ second site. Both Town Manager Timothy McInerney and Chief of Police Normand A. Crepeau, Jr. had previously been given a tour of the Milford facility.
Addressing the public hearing, Michael Dundas, the company’s spokesman, said that the facility would dispense marijuana by doctor’s prescription only and that it would be a secure facility.
He noted that the company wants to become part of the Worcester area business community despite the total client base initially being perhaps 1.5 percent of the medical patient population (approximately 40 clients per day).
Dundas said that the building will be retrofitted to Department of Public Health as well as town standards, with no external signage nor clear viewing into the building from outside. All staff and volunteers will be thoroughly screened – “the state process is extensive,” he maintained. All sale of marijuana will be done at the dispensary – there will be “no vertical marketing.” The product will arrive in Grafton packaged and sealed.
Phil Leger, chief of environmental health and response for Worcester County for the Central Mass. Regional Health Alliance, gave his cautious approval of the planned dispensary, noting that such issues as heavy metals testing of the product and state licensing fees remained uncertain. He also suggested the possibility of getting funding for town expenses in lieu of licensing fees. Dundas said that the building would be leased rather than purchased and assured the hearing that the business is to be operated as a not- for-profit corporation as the state requires.
Crepeau offered his qualified support but noted that the proposed site was “problematic” from the law enforcement viewpoint. He agreed that the absence of signage was a good idea but cautioned that applicable Drug Enforcement Agency information should be distributed to all town officials.
Selectman Jennifer Thomas moved that the board grant Milford Medicinals a letter of non-opposition, to which Selectman Dennis Flynn disagreed. He said he was disappointed that the board had not discussed this matter further before a vote and that he wanted to continue the discussion. He noted that in the 1960s he saw what marijuana had done to damage kids and their schools and that he has worked with families that were having severe problems with drugs.
“It’s a gateway drug,” he asserted. He urged the Board to not approve a dispensary in the proposed location, but rather in an industrial location instead.
The board voted to support the letter, 4-1, with Flynn dissenting.