By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – During a special Board of Selectmen’s meeting that lasted just over three hours on Jan. 11, residents expressed their displeasure with a recent move by the board to approve a proposed medical marijuana clinic to be located at 206 Worcester St., (Route 122).
On Nov. 17, after a scheduled public hearing had been concluded, the Grafton Board of Selectmen voted to write a “letter of non-opposition” regarding a proposed marijuana dispensary to be run by Sage Cannabis (formerly known as Milford Medicinals) at 206 Worcester St., (Route 122), the location of a former Cumberland Farms.
Approximately 200 people attended the Jan. 11 meeting which was held at Grafton High School after the selectmen were caught off guard at their Jan. 5 meeting by the number of resident who showed up intent on expressing their opposition to the proposed clinic.
The board’s chair, Craig Dauphinais began the meeting by explaining that Michael Dundas, the CEO of Sage Cannabis would make a presentation he had previously made about the proposed clinic, which is set to open in mid-2016. But before Dundas did so, many voices were raised from the audience asking why this had to be presented again when most people at this meeting wanted to voice their concerns.
Dauphinais tried to explain that he felt this course was best when Selectman Dennis Flynn asked that the meeting be officially called to order. As soon as Dauphinais did so, Flynn began reading from a long list of concerns he had received from Grafton residents about the clinic. Flynn continued to read from the list, ignoring the repeated tries of Dauphinais to bring order to the meeting. Flynn ended by proposing that the board rescind its letter of non-opposition to the clinic.
Dundas then tried to complete his presentation, but was continually interrupted by voters who asked many questions and made comments. In all, more than 35 people rose to speak on the issue. While several were in favor of the clinic’s location, most were against. Several non-Grafton residents also spoke in favor of the clinic.
Selectman Bruce Spinney noted that the clinic meets zoning criteria and is a legally recognized business. He repeated this a number of times despite repeated protests from voters. A man from Webster, who claimed to have been on several town boards there, insisted that “this ship has sailed;” that since the clinic had been approved for this location there was nothing the town could now do to stop or move it. Spinney and Dauphinais agreed.
As the meeting continued audience members spoke, with one claiming that the board had taken “action behind closed doors.” Vice Chair Jennifer Thomas (who had taken the lead after Dauphinais had to depart), asserted that all meetings are public and conform to state open meeting laws.
Unable to regain control of the meeting after residents continued to voice their opposition, Thomas adjourned the meeting.