Retail marijuana shop planned in Whately

For the Gazette
Published: 6/5/2018 10:52:17 PM

WHATELY — A South Deerfield resident has high hopes to be the first person to open a retail pot shop in town, with her sights set on the State Road building that was the home of “Final Markdown” most recently.

Amy Royal presented her concept to the Whately Select Board last week. Her business would occupy the L-shaped building near the intersection of Route 116 and Routes 5 and 10.

The Select Board encouraged Royal to proceed further and to come back with more of a business plan and a drafted host agreement so they can continue the local approval process. Before Royal could ask the state for a license, she must have a host agreement signed by the town.

Royal, represented by Springfield political consultant Tony Cignoli, who has been involved with the medical marijuana business in the region, said she wants to enter the recreational marijuana business in part with the goal of increasing access to pot, with a doctor on hand, in a “holistic” approach.

She recalled her mother, who grew up in Bernardston, dying of cancer and sick from chemotherapy. Royal wished her mother had better access to marijuana, which she believes could have eased the pain from the treatment.

“I saw a need in this community and throughout Franklin County,” Royal said, who noted education will be a big part of her business goal, not only for her clients, but for children in town. She has two teenagers and mentioned the need to make sure they understand pot, including edibles, are not to be played around with.

There’s a chance Royal could work with local farmers, like with a cultivator in Whately if that also gets approved, but that’s still in the distance.

“I personally think this board should do everything it can … to achieve what we’ve been trying to achieve,” Selectman Jonathan Edwards said, about the town’s attempts to be welcoming to marijuana businesses that could increase tax revenue. “We are remiss if we suddenly don’t commit down the pathway we have gone down as a town.”

There were a few questions regarding how the business could increase traffic at that sometimes problematic intersection.

Royal and her team at the meeting said they would expect no more than 30 to 60 customers a day to be successful, which the Select Board did not feel would increase traffic significantly, at least no more than the prior businesses there had.

She also suggested people might drive 30 minutes to come to their business and then go to Yankee Candle’s flagship store down the road.


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