By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – At their regularly scheduled meeting April 19, the recent dispute over the approval of the marijuana dispensary near Hollywood Drive was expanded to include a new application, this one for a marijuana-growing facility.
Nature’s Remedy, based in California, has notified officials that they may want to locate a marijuana farm in town. Town Administrator Timothy McInerney suggested that the best place, if approved, might be CenTech Park. Selectman Brook Padgett suggested that locating it there might be more palatable to voters than the proposed Sage Cannabis dispensary at 206 Worcester St., which has been controversial with voters.
The discussion then moved to the review process of the Nature’s Remedy facility, to avoid the problems that arose during that of Sage Cannabis. One suggestion was to pass the decision to Town Meeting, to which Padgett replied, “Why pass the decision to 150 people at Town Meeting when we have 18,000 town residents?” He said that, instead, a public hearing would allow more voter participation.
Selectman Chair Craig Dauphinais noted that the problem with Sage was that people felt left out of the town’s decision and Padgett agreed that the Sage issue should have been brought before the Planning Board and to a public hearing, even though it was acceptable to zoning regulations.
“I know some people oppose marijuana facilities in town, but this is a legal business,” Padgett said.
“We should side on the side of caution,” replied Selectman Dennis Flynn. “We shouldn’t allow this to become what happened with Sage.”
McInerney said that the first step in discussing the Nature’s Remedy proposal is to determine whether the board’s opinion will be different if marijuana is ruled a recreational drug.
Selectman Jennifer Thomas suggested that the board might send a letter of non-opposition but make it clear that they oppose the clinic if marijuana is de-criminalized recreationally.
McInerney then reminded the board that a letter of opposition can be simply dismissed by the state; the town has no power to stop such a business if it meets state requirements.
The board decided to again address the proposed new facility at the Tuesday, May 3, meeting. Dauphinais also suggested that, to avoid the uproar surrounding the Sage issue, the board set up a public hearing for people to come and voice their concerns.