Hampshire County marijuana pacts vary

  • Easthampton City Councilors Owen Zaret, left, and Thomas Peake attend the first day of recreational marijuana sales at INSA in Easthampton on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michael Murphy, far left, of Greenfield, who had success selling his spot in the long lines at NETA in Northampton earlier in the week, couldn't find any takers in the abbreviated lines at INSA in Easthampton on its first day of recreational marijuana sales on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Prior to the 10 a.m. opening, the line was 35 people long; by 11 a.m. it had dwindled to eight people. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Patrons wait their turns to make purchases on the first day of recreational marijuana sales at INSA in Easthampton on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle gives a speech inside INSA on the first day of recreational marijuana sales at the city establishment on Saturday. Behind her are, from left, District 2 City Councilor Homar Gomez, Council Member At-large Daniel Carey, Council Vice President Salem Derby and Council President Joseph McCoy. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Detail of a display case at INSA on the first day of recreational marijuana sales at the Easthampton establishment on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Easthampton City Council Vice-President Salem Derby, foreground, speaks before making the first purchase at INSA on the first day of recreational marijuana sales at the city business on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Behind him are, from left, City Council Members At-large Daniel Carey, Margaret Conniff and Owne Zaret (partially obscured) and Council President Joseph McCoy. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 12/27/2018 12:03:31 AM

NORTHAMPTON — With no model host community agreement provided to cities and towns by the state, it has been up to local officials to craft the terms of these deals with adult-use marijuana retailers, manufacturers and cultivators.

In Northampton, the template developed covers key elements officials want enshrined in any relationship the city has with such businesses, said Mayor David Narkewicz.

These elements, which are included in the 12 community host agreements Northampton has in place with 11 adult-use marijuana companies, include a 3-percent community impact fee, which is the maximum any community can collect from the gross annual revenues of a marijuana business; money to be set aside for nonprofits who focus on marijuana education and prevention and; maintaining good commu nica tio ns with both the city and its police department.

“The key is to be equitable to all applicants, and I think our agreements hold up just fine based on that,” Narkewicz said.

The agreements, with the first signed in March with New England Treatment Access and the most recent signed in December with Toroverde (Massachusetts) Inc., all cite the potential impact of adult-use marijuana sales and production on the city, which “will incur additional expenses and impacts upon its road system, law enforcement, inspectional services, permitting services, administrative services and public health services, in addition to potential additional unforeseen impacts upon the city.”

When getting started on the agreements, which are needed before a company can seek a state license to sell marijuana, Narkewicz said the city reached out to the Massachusetts Municipal Association to see if it could provide copies of other host community agreements. This helped city officials to develop the boiler-plate language for Northampton.

“I believe I’m comfortable with ours and believe it fits within the legal framework of the adult-use law,” Narkewicz said.

All the agreements signed in Northampton require $10,000 to go toward education and prevention programs, with only Bodelles Edibles, LLC, a microbusiness, to provide just half that amount, a figure that would be mandated to go higher if it exceed the limits of this model.

Easthampton

In Easthampton, Mayor Nicole LaChapelle has executed five agreements using input from the Cannabis Control Commission, the Department of Revenue and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, she said. But unlike Northampton, there are a variety of terms and conditions in place in the agreements, in addition to 3-percent community impact fee.

For INSA, the recreational marijuana retailer that opened in the city on Saturday, a $10,000 payment to the city was required within seven days of the April 24, 2018 signing of the agreement, though there is no language requiring money go explicitly for marijuana education and prevention, according to the documents.

For other companies, like Apical, Inc., Herbology and Holistic Industries, the agreements require a year one community impact payment of at least $75,000, or 3-percent of gross sales, whichever is larger. LaChapelle said there are reasons for these payments.

“We went back and forth about the amount of payments and how they come in,” LaChapelle said. “Our position was impact fees should be more intense in the first couple of years.”

Holistic Industries’ agreement also requires $10,000 for marijuana education and prevention, while Apical’s outlines charitable donations it will make, including $2,500 to the Emily Williston Memorial Library, $2,500 for city schools and $2,500 for public safety programs, with another $2,500 for a drug abuse program if there is a measured increase in addiction among teenagers.

LaChapelle said cannabis provides a unique opportunity for economic development, and that the agreements have to meet the wants and needs of both the city and the companies.

“I feel we came to a good common place given what directions have come from the Cannabis Control Commission, ” LaChapelle said.

Amherst

In Amherst, the only two signed agreements are modeled after Northampton’s, said Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz.

Herbology Group, Inc. and Rise Holdings, Inc. will provide the town a 3-percent community impact fee, with the town making “a good faith effort to allocate said payments for road and other infrastructure systems, law enforcement, fire protection services, inspectional services, public health and additional services and permitting, administrative and consulting services.”

But Amherst has a higher fee for education and prevention than Northampton, with a $20,000 payment required. Amherst’s agreement also has a reporting requirement that allows town officials to check on representations made by the companies about hiring locally, as well as employing minorities, women and veterans and “people from areas of disproportionate impact.”

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


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy