State grants final OK for Great Barrington medical marijuana dispensary

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GREAT BARRINGTON — The state has for the first time granted final approval for a medical marijuana dispensary in the Berkshires.

Theory Wellness Medical Marijuana, a Stoneham nonprofit, has been awarded a Final Certificate of Registration by the state Department of Public Health, according to Nicholas Friedman, president of the company.

"This is the final certificate we need to begin," he said.

Plans are underway to open the dispensary, located on State Road, by June. The cultivation facility is located in Bridgewater.

"This is not speculation," Friedman said. "We have our timeline set. We will be moving forward. We wanted to announce this because we know of so many patients who are need of medical marijuana in Berkshire County."

More than three years after Massachusetts voters approved a referendum approving the use of medical marijuana in the state, Berkshire still has no dispensary. Berkshire County patients approved to use medical marijuana have had to travel to Northampton or Springfield, site of the nearest dispensaries.

The state Department of Public Health reported there were about 30,000 patients statewide as of Aug. 31; estimates of how many medical marijuana users live in the Berkshires vary from 200 to 500.

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There are three dispensaries in Pittsfield that are presently awaiting final approval from the DPH. As of Tuesday, none of those facilities have been approved, according to the DPH website.

Those facilities, if approved, would be maintained by Heka Health, Khom Organis and Temsecal Wellness (formerly Manna Wellness).

In Great Barrington, voters in 2012 approved a bylaw allowing construction of a medical marijuana facility.

Theory Wellness won approval from the town's Planning Board in October to construct the dispensary building at the north end of town. The proposed building is located in a business zone and is allowed by right.

Plans call for a single-story wood structure to be built on the south end of the Laramee Cleaners parking lot.

In anticipation of this final approval, Theory Wellness has put up the outer shell of the structure already, Friedman said. The interior has yet to be completed.

"The walls, the roof, that's all up," he said.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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