Cannabis commissioner to offer public update in Lenox

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PITTSFIELD — When it comes to cannabis, municipal leaders in the Berkshires have questions. This month, a leader of the state's cannabis authority brings answers.

Kay Doyle, who sits on the three-member Cannabis Control Commission, will talk shop and take questions in a meeting April 24 in Lenox Town Hall.

The 6 p.m. session is free and open to the public.

Doyle will be joined by Ray Miyares, an attorney who is a familiar face to town officials who hope to understand how the legalization of adult-use marijuana, and the start of sales this July, will affect their communities.

Miyares has spoken at two other sessions also organized by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

"It's to get us caught up, and know where we are," Thomas Matuszko, the commission's current assistant director, said of the workshop. Matuszko takes over as chief of his organization May 24.

Along with senior planner Chris Gruba, Matuszko has been handling cannabis issues for the Pittsfield-based commission.

Doyle will talk about how the Cannabis Control Commission is going about its work to implement the law backed by voters in 2016.

Her commission began taking applications this week and is checking credentials of people in two groups that have priority status to enter the business. One is existing medical marijuana dispensaries. The other is people from economically distressed areas, including Pittsfield and North Adams, or those negatively affected by past drug laws.

Come April 17, the commission begins reviewing actual applications, with decisions due within weeks.

For city and town leaders, the workshop offers a chance to quiz experts on this fast-moving process.

In his two earlier workshops, Miyares urged municipal officials not to stand by.

"His main message was: 'Don't do nothing,'" said Matuszko.

In this month's workshop, Miyares will address the use of "host community agreements." Applicants for cannabis licenses must work their desired locations to secure such agreements.

In Berkshire County, some communities — such as Monterey, Richmond and West Stockbridge — opted to postpone the arrival of adult-use cannabis businesses by placing a moratorium in effect through this year.

But others, including Adams, Clarksburg, North Adams and Windsor, moved to explore or adopt bylaws spelling out how such businesses can operate.

To attend the April 24 workshop, visit berkshireplanning.org, click the announcement about the event and follow to the eventbrite.com registration form.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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