By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – The continuation of a hearing for a proposed indoor marijuana farm at Centech Park – Nature’s Remedy – was continued at the Grafton selectmen’s Aug. 16 meeting. John Brady and Attorney Phillip Silverman represented Nature’s Remedy. Under discussion since last May, this hearing has generated considerable controversy. A proposed marijuana dispensary supplier pulled its application for a dispensary on Worcester Street in Grafton in June.
Since the hearing’s beginning in May, the parcel of land to be used has changed to 8 Millenium Drive. Abutters have been notified. Silverman noted that the company is required to solicit neighbor agreement for such a business, which, he continued, will be “highly secured.”
According to Brady, the 50,000-square-foot building will be entirely covered by locked doors and camera security. Customers will be required to have a marijuana prescription card and must show it at store entrance, which will be protected by a man-trap security door. No visitors will be allowed. He said he could not go into many details of procedures because of security concerns. Both the Police and Fire departments will be involved in the plan. Security will include both internal and external cameras. The alarm system will be connected to the police department. Any product ready for sale will be locked nightly in a vault. Seeds/sprouts will also be tracked individually.
Brady and Silverman suggested that the farm would be a job creator, with between eight and 20 people employed to start, and as many as 40 employed down the road, with preference given to local workers.
Silverman then asked the board if they were ready to create a host agreement as well as a letter of non-opposition, noting that Nature’s Remedy was ready to sign, as well as agree to taxes to the town. He continued by saying that local residents needed the product delivered in a safe, regulated manner and that any delay in getting approval from the town would be unfortunate.
Selectman Sargon Hanna replied that, since there were only three selectmen at the hearing (with Jennifer Thomas and Bruce Spinney absent), he would be uncomfortable in signing any agreement this night. But, he continued, “We could get the ball rolling and in another meeting sign a letter to the state.”
Town Administrator Timothy McInerney added that the board might want a letter from Nature’s Remedy stating that they would operate legally only and if any product has to be returned to the dispensary it would be done legally as well.
“If anything is to be returned, we need a procedure for that,” he said.
To this Silverman stated that the state has a template letter that could be used but it does not allow any contingency demands.
“I don’t know what the future will be for recreational use, which the legislature will have to determine,” he said. “How this will all play out regarding recreational use is unknown. But the facility owner and investors need to be protected financially.”
Brady then asserted that Nature’s Remedy is for medical-use marijuana growing only and that he would have to come back to the board to start another facility to provide for for-profit/taxable sales.
“We don’t want to build something not welcome,” he reassured the board.
Concerns from the public included requiring a host agreement and the upcoming state ballot question on legalizing recreational marijuana. One resident asked if the town could wait until after that vote before talking about a letter of non-opposition. Silverman replied that they cannot wait until after the ballot because of the time for licensing.
“We are talking about medical marijuana – making the host agreement a contingency is problematic,” he explained.
To which Selectman Brook Padgett responded: “We are more concerned about the citizens than your business.”
Dauphinais moved to keep this hearing open until the full board can attend in another two weeks. The board voted unanimously to do so.