Great Barrington OKs nonprofit's proposal for medical marijuana dispensary


GREAT BARRINGTON -- Prospect Lake Inc. is state-approval away from establishing a medical marijuana production and dispensary facility on Gas House Lane, off Main Street.

The nonprofit has signed a lease to rent the Crossfit Great Barrington building, and the site plan was approved on Thursday by the town Planning Board.

Now the group is waiting to hear by Jan. 31 whether the Department of Public Health will approve a license to operate the facility.

Prospect Lake Inc. is a collaborative ownership group that includes Dr. Michael Marino, a former assistant professor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City, and four other financial partners, including the Gilmore family, which owns the building.

"We want this to be a net positive for the community," Marino, an Alford resident, told The Eagle on Friday.

Pending state approval, Marino said hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations could be completed by July 1. The Department of Public Health is expected to announce up to 35 license recipients following an ongoing review of 100 applications by a state selection committee.

They would be the first licenses following approval of medical marijuana in a referendum vote in November 2012 and the development of regulations by the DPH over several months.

Meanwhile, the Planning Board is nearing completion of a draft bylaw that would outline where future medical marijuana dispensaries could locate. The bylaw would not affect Prospect Lake Inc.'s development, Planning Board Chair Jonathan Hankin said, because it has been approved under the designation of a hemp processing site.

The Planning Board will recommend dispensaries be allowed in industrial zones and the B2 and B3 business zones, which fall along Route 7 South and Stockbridge Road. The bylaw will be submitted to the Select Board for consideration on the town meeting warrant, Hankins said on Friday.

Prospect Lake Inc., represented by Marino and other partners at the meeting, outlined operations that would include about four onsite employees and likely serve about 10 people a day. The nonprofit would hire two independent security firms to watch over the premises, Marino said, and it is also planning to hire a member of the Great Barrington Police Department to man the front desk to ensure security.

Marino told the Eagle on Friday that two-thirds of the 5,000 square-foot property would likely be used for growing cannabis.

Hankin, the Planning Board chairman, said the board approved the exterior plans for the building, which covers landscaping, parking, and signage. The board recommended minor changes that relate to handicapped parking and lighting.

"He appears to be a serious candidate and the state will decide that," said Hankin, who spoke supportively of allowing a dispensary in Great Barrington.

The nonprofit is interested in working with the town, Marino said, so he's had discussions with Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin and Police Chief William Walsh. He said he also has discussed his plans with Selectman Stephen Bannon.

In addition, Marino said he's also reached out to multiple youth groups and Berkshire Hills Regional School District to get their thoughts. Prospect Lake Inc. has also hired local attorney Edward McCormick.

"They've all shown an incredible interest in this project and making sure it's been done right and that's affected the type of people we have hired," Marino said.

Marino received his doctoral degree in cell biology and genetics from Weil Medical College of Cornell University. Marino worked for Sloan-Kettering for about 10 years over two stints between 1991 through 2001. Since then, he has operated his own business, Helix In-Car Camera, related to photography and video on race cars, a personal passion.

"We want strong science, strong security and strong patient care," Marino said.

To reach John Sakata:
or (413)-496-6240.
On Twitter: @JSakata


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