Proposed moratorium may kill medical marijuana dispensary planned for Whately
WHATELY — A one-year moratorium on medical marijuana treatment centers in Whately could be a death sentence for the proposal by JM Farm’s Patient Group Inc. to open a dispensary in Franklin County, the nonprofit partners said.
Joshua Sodaitis and Nicholas Spagnola, partners in the venture with local farmer James Pasiecnik, appealed to the Select Board once more to reconsider the town’s proposed one-year moratorium on medical marijuana facilities. The board, however, told the business partners to talk to the Planning Board, which recommended the proposal for Tuesday’s special Town Meeting.
Pasiecnik and his partners are seeking one of the 35 available state licenses for a registered medical marijuana dispensary. Each county is required to have one dispensary, but no more than five.
The nonprofit group is seeking to put a dispensary in Whately and base the growing center on Pasiecnik’s property at 207 River Road.
The Select Board recently gave its support to the proposal, but it said J.M. Farm’s Patient Group should get support from other town boards and committees as well. To get a license, the state requires applicants to demonstrate community support in their proposed area of service.
According to Sodaitis, the state will look at applications more favorably if the not-for-profits can distribute the marijuana product in 120 days after getting a license.
“The state would like the registered medical marijuana dispensaries to service patients. If not, it doesn’t look good to the state,” Sodaitis said.
Sodaitis and Spagnola expressed concern because if approved, the Whately moratorium would be lifted months after the 120-day deadline.
The proposed moratorium would ban medical marijuana treatment centers until Sept. 30, 2014, to give the town planners time to research the state Department of Health regulations for registered medical marijuana dispensaries and recommend any zoning changes.
“A moratorium in the town of Whately would be a death sentence for J.M. Farm’s Patient Group,” Sodaitis said. “The town would be passed over.”
Spagnola said the nonprofit is having trouble securing a lease on properties in Whately for a dispensary because of the uncertainty of the moratorium. An address is needed on the state application, Spagnola said.
“If the moratorium ended in March, we’d feel comfortable putting an investment on some of these buildings,” Spagnola said.
The three nonprofit partners plan to attend the Town Meeting.
Pasiecnik has said he hopes residents will vote down the moratorium. Last November, 70 percent of Whately voters supported the state ballot question legalizing marijuana for medicine.