Four groups now seek to open medical marijuana sites in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD &mdash Two more nonprofit organizations are applying for special permits to establish medical marijuana facilities in Pittsfield.
Manna Wellness Inc., doing business as Temescal Wellness, recently obtained three provisional certificates of registration from the state Department of Health, which allows the nonprofit to begin setting up growing and retail operations before seeking a final certificate of registration and a formal license to sell to medical marijuana patients.
Julia Germaine, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization, said the group plans to set up a marijuana cultivation facility in Worcester as the first step in the process. A proposed retail facility in Pittsfield, on Callahan Drive, would be new construction, she said, and other dispensaries were approved in Framingham and Hudson.
Following final inspections by the state, the retail facility in Pittsfield could be open by late 2017, Germaine said in an email.
"Before we build out our retail dispensaries in Pittsfield, Framingham and Hudson, we will retrofit a consolidated cultivation and production facility in Worcester," she said.
"The Worcester site was secured by a team member of ours who previously applied [for a DPH license] in Worcester, and has been developing relationships in that community since the first round of applications in 2013," Germaine said. "Right now, the facility is a fabrication shop, and we'll be doing a major retrofit to convert it into a medical cannabis cultivation and production facility."
She said that once the site is prepared, it would take about four months to grow the first crop of marijuana, and final state approvals would be sought during that time for the cultivation.
"Very exciting stuff, and a great reward for our patience as the medical licensing program had its bumpy start," Germaine said. "Our team now comprises members from other high-scoring but unlicensed teams from 'round one,' which is why we were able to achieve three licenses across the state."
Manna Wellness applied for a cultivation and retail operation on Callahan Drive in the first round of medical marijuana license applications in 2013, after the DPH developed the initial licensing regulations following approval of medical marijuana in a 2012 state ballot initiative.
The nonprofit was one of 61 of the original license applicants "not approved at this time" in the state's first license selection process. The process, which has since been revised under the Gov. Charlie Baker administration, no longer limits the number of facilities statewide or per county, but it remains a lengthy review.
Currently, there are 175 nonprofit groups listed on the DPH website as actively seeking medical marijuana licenses.
Two other groups that previously obtained a special permit from Pittsfield — Heka Health Inc. and Khem Organics Inc. — also have received provisional certificates of registration from the DPH.
Heka Health proposed a facility in an existing building at 531 Dalton Ave., and Khem Organics proposes a facility in a building at 501 Dalton Ave. Both groups also have obtained provisional certificates in two additional communities.
In addition, Happy Valley Compassion Center is proposing a dispensary for medical marijuana in the former KFC restaurant building at 737 East St. and recently filed a special permit application with the city.
Attorney Richard Vinette Jr., of Hannon-Lerner, of Lee, representing Happy Valley, said the former KFC restaurant would be renovated for a dispensary only. He said the nonprofit, which has not yet obtained a required sales license from the state Department of Public Health, also is applying for two other facilities in other communities.
On the DPH website Tuesday, Happy Valley is shown as having permit applications in for sites in Greenfield and Hadley and a third application for which no location had yet been named. The nonprofit does not have provisional certificates, according to the DPH website.
Wilcox & Barton Inc., of Moretown, Vt., prepared the site plan in Pittsfield.
The list of all license applications and their statuses can be viewed at www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/quality/medical-marijuana/rmd-status-through-aug19-2016.pdf
Having two special permits issued and two pending before it, the city of Pittsfield has been considering lifting a cap of three medical marijuana facilities that was included in the ordinance governing the siting of the facilities.
City Planner C.J. Hoss said that, while the issue has been discussed by the Community Development Board, it appears a decision will be postponed until after the Nov. 8 election, when voters will act on a ballot question calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.