Amherst Rise delivers $45K in marijuana payments to town

  • Laura Frontierro, assistant manager of Rise Amherst, makes the Amherst dispensary's first recreational marijuana sale to Amherst Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz on May 13. Bera Dunau

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 5:06:58 PM

AMHERST — Amherst’s first marijuana shop has provided an infusion of around $45,000 in new revenue to the town’s coffers.

Rise Amherst, which opened at 169 Meadow St. as a medical-only dispensary in May 2018 and added recreational sales this spring, recently disbursed the money to the town.

Amherst received $20,052 from six weeks of recreational, or adult-use, sales this year, May 12 to June 30, and an additional $25,301 from the host community agreement for medical marijuana sales from May 21 to Dec. 31, 2018.

The payments for the adult-use sales are calculated as a 3 percent community impact fee on gross revenues and a 3 percent local option tax. The company is also supposed to make an annual charitable contribution of not less than $20,000 to local marijuana education and prevention programs.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said the amount, though much smaller than payments from similar marijuana stores in Northampton and Easthampton, was not a surprise.

“It’s about what we expected,” Bockelman said.

In May, Northampton announced it had received $737,331 from New England Treatment Access for its recreational sales in November, December and January. An additional $530,589 in excise tax revenue was provided to the city in June, representing 3 percent of the gross revenue from recreational marijuana sales at the dispensary in February, March and April. NETA also delivered a $520,728 community impact fee check to the city in June.

In Easthampton, INSA, which opened Dec. 22, provided $57,843 in taxes during its first three months selling recreational marijuana.

Bockelman said the marijuana-related money will go into the general fund and became available for ongoing operations or one-time expenses. He expects to use the money as he prepares the fiscal year 2021 budget, though Town Council could make decisions about whether it should be used for specific purposes.

Additional marijuana retailers are expected to open at some point. Herbology, at 422 Amity St., the former site of Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant, is expected to be the next to open, with both recreational and medical sales, while Mass Alternative Care has plans to set up shop at 55 University Drive. Both have signed host community agreements with Bockelman.

MassMedicum at 85 University Drive and Silver Therapeutics at 37 Boltwood Walk are also working their way through the permit process, recently holding information sessions required by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

Riverside Organics could become the first greenhouse cultivation facility in Amherst, at 555 Belchertown Road.

Riverside recently signed a host community agreement calling for 3 percent community impact fee on gross revenues and a $5,000 annual donation to education and prevention programs.

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


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