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Company close to opening 1st marijuana dispensary in North Amherst

  • A North Amherst marijuana retailer is getting closer to becoming the first pot dispensary to open in the college town after signing a host community agreement. The business intends to use the former auction barn at 169 Meadow St. as its medical marijuana dispensary. AP photo



Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

AMHERST — A North Amherst marijuana retailer is getting closer to becoming the first pot dispensary to open in the college town after signing a host community agreement.

GTI Massachusetts NP Corp. recently signed the agreement, Town Manager Paul Bockelman announced last week. In 2016, GTI obtained a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to use the former auction barn at 169 Meadow St. as its medical marijuana dispensary.

GTI is the second company of four that received letters of non-opposition from the Select Board to enter into an agreement, joining Happy Valley Ventures Inc., which has planned a dispensary at 422 Amity St., the current site of Rafter’s Sports Bar & Restaurant.

Unlike Happy Valley, which has not done any work at the Rafter’s location, GTI has done extensive renovations to its property over the past several months, leading town officials to believe its opening may be imminent, said Geoffrey Kravitz, the economic development director for Amherst.

Efforts to reach GTI directly, and through its attorney, Thomas Reidy of Bacon Wilson, PC of Amherst, were unsuccessful.

Kravitz said GTI will still need a certificate of occupancy and may also need a certificate of registration before it can begin selling medical marijuana. The site will also likely have an adult-use, or recreational marijuana, component, he said.

GTI’s agreement, signed by its CEO Peter Kadens and Bockelman, provides for a contribution to the town of 3 percent of its gross sales in the 13th month following its opening. It also spells out a number of steps the company needs to take, including community meetings and partnerships with police, and hiring qualified staff.

The Happy Valley agreement, negotiated by former Interim Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner, calls for providing Amherst $75,000 during the pre-opening phase, then 3 percent of annual revenues minus that initial payment. It also is obligated to provide $15,000 a year to a local charity and offer employment to local residents.

Four companies have received provisional certificates from the state’s Department of Public Health.

One of those, Mass Alternative Care, also received a Zoning Board of Appeals special permit for a former restaurant site at 55 University Drive. Another, MassMedicum Corp., with a new building to be used at 85 University Drive, got its special permit last week. Happy Valley has not yet gone through the Zoning Board process.

Kravitz said the change in marijuana regulations following the November 2016 vote by residents to legalize recreational marijuana means that dispensaries have the option to co-locate medical and adult-use sales, and can also convert from nonprofit to for-profit status.

With the Cannabis Control Commission issuing guidelines and state law settled, Kravitz said he expects recreational sales to begin in town by mid-summer.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.