With Lee's OK, Canna Provisions just needs state green light to grow its own pot

Canna Provisions COO Erik Williams and CEO Meg Sanders on opening day of Lee’s first recreational marijuana shop.

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LEE — The town's only recreational marijuana retailer is a step closer to growing its own pot to sell.

Canna Provisions on Housatonic Street is a state license away from building a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse within the Quarry Hill Business Park on Route 102, not far from Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The Select Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a special permit for the entire 33,000-square-foot facility that includes space for drying, curing, storing and packaging the marijuana products, along with office space, according to Canna CEO Meg Sanders.

"You won't see the building from the road," Sanders told the board. "We're simply trying to get these giant plants into little packages."

If the demand is greater than expected, Canna has plans — with town approval — to double the size of the greenhouse space to 40,000 square feet.

The Lee Planning Board and Conservation Commission have also signed off on the project that will be sited on four acres of an eight-acre lot on the backside of the business park.

Although it's an indoor cannabis cultivation facility, town officials will keep close tabs on how well the greenhouse charcoal scrubbers prevent the smell of the pot plants from leaving the building.

"We'll come back in one year [from operation] to make sure there's no problem with the odor," said Select Board Chairman Thomas Wickham.

Canna's homegrown cannabis products will be sold wholesale across the state, including to its Lee store.

In June, the Select Board agreed to waive the 3 percent local sales tax on Canna's cultivation sales to the Lee store. Canna would still pay the tax on wholesale transactions to out-of-town retailers. The company's is already required to pay the 3 percent on the retail sales.

The waiver is for one year from when the growing facility starts selling its wholesale product line. Forgoing the tax for 12 months was a compromise to the company's request for a permanent waiver to help bolster the financial success of the cultivation operation.

Canna Provisions is the fourth marijuana growing proposal in Lee now before the Massachsuetts Cannabis Control Commission seeking a license to operate. Since December, the Select Board has granted three other indoor marijuana growers special permits still awaiting CCC approval.

Brothers Nathan, Nick and Ben Girard, all of Pittsfield, look to operate under the name Higher Purpose at 815 Pleasant St. (Route 102), currently occupied by Oraceutical, makers of oral care products. Across the highway in the Quarry Hill Business Park, Rain City Forest wants to erect a 3,000-square-foot cultivation building on one acre of a four-acre lot, distributing more than 50 percent of its product outside the Berkshires.

The largest cultivation/manufacturing pot factory would be at the former 159,000-square-foot Greylock Mill. California-based Franz Chan, CEO of Zipbox, is the driving force behind revitalizing the paper mill, vacant since 2008.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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