Prospective Florence marijuana-growing business to hold public forum

  • FILE - In this June 21, 2018, file photo, a laboratory manager holds a cannabis sample in Oakland, Calif. Oklahoma health officials on Friday, July 27, 2018, released new proposed medical marijuana rules that remove some of the most controversial provisions, including a ban on the sale of smokable pot and a requirement that female patients get a pregnancy test. The original rules approved by the board earlier this month prompted outrage from medical marijuana supporters who said they went too far. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) Jeff Chiu

  • FILE - In this March 25, 2018 file photo, a visitor examines a marijuana sample at the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston. Three New England states legalized recreational marijuana, but there is still no place to buy pot legally in the region. Sunday, July 1, 2018, had been the target date to open pot shops in Massachusetts, but no retail licenses have yet been awarded. Possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana becomes legal in Vermont that day, but the law has no provisions for retail sales. Pot shops aren't expected in Maine until 2019 at earliest. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) Steven Senne

Published: 7/31/2018 5:55:33 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Just Healthy LLC, which is looking to establish a medical marijuana-growing facility in Florence, will hold a public forum Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Garden House at Look Park.

This follows a May forum that was held at the R.K. Finn Ryan Road School.

“Neither of these are required by law,” said Just Healthy co-founder Neil Phelan, who said the forums are about being good neighbors.

Phelan said he has been working with Ward 6 Councilor Marianne LaBarge to get the word out and that, in addition to mailings, he has delivered invitations himself.

“I hand-delivered I would say 250,” he said.

The proposal centers on the construction of a large greenhouse with attached office space at 1010 Ryan Road, a property that was formerly the site of the Bill Willard Inc. gravel pit. Processing would also occur onsite.

The facility would supply a medical marijuana retail facility planned for 58 Pleasant St. in a leased facility, across from Sylvester’s Restaurant.

For those who can’t make the forum in person, they can attend via phone conference. The number to do so is 224-501-3412, access code 324-064-085.

Phelan said the May meeting was about listening and getting input.

“We didn’t come with answers,” Phelan said. “This is us coming back with those answers.”

Phelan noted that many of those questions had centered on odor from the facility. As a result, he said, Just Healthy has joined the Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering consortium, which has assessed the plans for the facility for both odor control and energy efficiency.

Additionally, odor at the site and on the grounds will be monitored by the Canadian company ORTECH.

“We have a third party,” said Phelan, saying the desire was for any odor issue to come to the attention of the company before neighbors complain.

He also said that a study has been conducted on the effect that the facility  would have on traffic, and that the company has engaged with the International Dark Sky Association on light pollution. He said Just Healthy would be sponsoring memberships in the association for those neighbors who want to join.

Phelan said the desire for Wednesday’s forum was to have a big turnout, and he would like to see “abutters of abutters of abutters” at the meeting.

Just Healthy has all the necessary approvals from the commonwealth until construction begins, Phelan said. The company is set to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board on Aug. 9. to get the go-ahead to begin developing the site.

A hurdle for the site was also cleared with the elimination of the consent decree on the property from the Environmental Protection Agency, which was put into place after it was found that sediment from the gravel pit was leaking into the water table. The acceptance of Just Healthy’s ground remediation and stormwater management plan caused the consent decree to be lifted, which will now allow Just Healthy to purchase the land.

Phelan said that while Just Healthy is interested in the recreational marijuana business as well, it is not pursuing it at this time.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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