Medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD -- A medical marijuana dispensary is proposed for a Downing Parkway site by a nonprofit group holding a provisional license from the state Department of Public Health.
Greeneway Wellness Foundation, of Kingston, will seek site plan approval for the facility on Tuesday from the city Community Development Board.
According to Greeneway’s application to the city, the dispensary would be located in leased space within an 11,182-square-foot building at 25 Downing Parkway.
The building, constructed in 1965, formerly housed Berkshire Beef Co. The structure sits on a 3.5-acre lot, according to the permit application.
Greeneway is working with Hill Engineering, Architects, Planners Inc., of Dalton, and with Nial C. DeMena, who is a principal in Manna Wellness, which sought a permit from the DPH for a medical marijuana production facility and dispensary off West Housatonic Street.
Manna Wellness was not among the first applicants awarded facility licenses or provisional licenses announced by the DPH on Jan. 31. Greeneway Wellness was awarded a license for a site in Cambridge and two provisional licenses. It also proposes a medical marijuana production facility in Taunton, according to the application in Pittsfield.
The provisional licenses allow the holder to seek to locate a facility in one of the underserved areas following the first round of license decisions. No sites were approved in Berkshire and Franklin counties or on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.
According to DPH spokeswoman Anne Roach, the department has yet to make a final decision on any of the facility licenses.
"DPH is committed to striking the appropriate balance between ensuring patient access and public safety, and right now we are focused on verifying all information and operational plans submitted by the applicants currently in the verification phase. No one has a license at this time," Roach said Friday in an email.
The DPH has been reviewing information from those nonprofits that scored well on the first license application round and meeting with their representatives and inspecting potential sites. The additional scrutiny follows revelations that some of the information provided by those scoring well was incorrect.
DeMena said he is acting as community representative for Greeneway in Pittsfield and will attend the board meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. "I will be representing them, along with Hill Engineering," he said.
DeMena said he has been able to take advantage of the community outreach work he and others with Manna Wellness did over the past year. Greeneway also has donated to the Pittsfield Farmers Market, Youth Alive and Kids 4 Harmony programs in an effort to "become part of the community," DeMena said.
Manna Wellness has not given up on its own proposal, DeMena said, but the DPH has yet to issue a decision on the nonprofit’s appeal of its first round license score.
There were 20 proposals selected for licenses -- with some groups selected for more than one site -- and six other high scorers were invited to apply for different sites in underserved areas. None of the four applicants from Berkshire County were approved.
Prior to the January announcement, there were about 100 nonprofit groups seeking licenses.
The statewide voter referendum that approved medical marijuana facilities specified 35 facilities and not fewer than one nor more than five in each county. It remains unclear whether the DPH will award the full 35 licenses allowed immediately or whether more will be allowed in the future.
DeManna said that even with the dispensary proposed by Greeneway Wellness, the county would lack a production facility. Manna Wellness proposed a green-technology building the group believed would be unique in the nation and could prove an attraction for the county.
The Downing Parkway site off Hubbard Avenue is located between a UPS facility and the Qamray Tooling Center. It is on a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus line.
The site and proposed facility would meet zoning requirements, according to the application. An 8-foot chainlink fence would be added, along with cameras and other security features.
A local permit can be granted by the city under zoning provisions dealing with medical marijuana facilities, which passed last year, but lacking a state permit it could not open.
Greeneway Wellness founder and CEO John Greene could not be reached Friday for comment.
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