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Leominster – The City Council on Monday gave the green light for approval letters for two medical-marijuana companies in the city and tabled a motion for a third.

No medical-marijuana company has been approved to open in Leominster, but the city is now a step closer.

Officially called “letters of non-opposition,” Council President David Cormier clarified that the letters act as a letter of support from the city and are a requirement in state approval.

Middlesex Integrative Medicine was given a letter of non-opposition for a place to grow and manufacture medical marijuana on Mohawk Drive. The vote was 8-1, with Councilor Gail Feckley opposed. She said the company scored too low on the application rubric for her to support it.

Prime Wellness Centers Inc. was in competition with another company to receive a letter of non-opposition to distribute medical marijuana in the city. Councilors said the two distribution companies were both excellent choices but Prime Wellness Center had a slight edge.

The council tabled the request from Alternative Therapies Group Inc., which Councilor Richard Marchand said the council could go back to if Prime Wellness dropped out.

The vote was 7-1 in favor of giving a letter of non-opposition, with Councilor John Dombrowski abstaining and Councilor Claire Freda opposed.

Several councilors said the city has no choice but to allow medical-marijuana companies in the city as long as they meet requirements, as they are legal under state law.

Councilor Mark Bodanza cited a statement from the Attorney General’s Office that made that point clear.
“We don’t have a choice to prohibit through our zoning (ordinances) a medical-marijuana facility,” he said. “We as a community really have no choice.”

Dombrowski also said the city can’t block these legal businesses, and added that a medical-marijuana manufacturing business in particular will be good for the city. These businesses don’t distribute the medical marijuana in the city and he said they will create 20 to 40 good jobs, adding that state training requirements will force the company to compensate employees well to avoid turnover.

“That’s not happening a lot these days,” he said, adding that the taxes the business pays will be welcome.

Marchand said he reversed his position on the letters of non-opposition, but not his opinion on medical-marijuana facilities.

Speaking about the manufacturing facility, he said at this point the council was merely voting on a letter, and if the project goes forward the medical-marijuana companies will still have to make a formal application.

“At that point, I’m going to rip them apart,” Marchand said. His comments drew several gasps from the audience, and he went on to explain that he will question the companies thoroughly.

Councilor Wayne Nickel also said the city has no choice but to follow state law, adding that a “Pandora’s box has already been opened.” He added several times that he is personally opposed to marijuana.

Freda repeated the idea that the city has to host a willing medical-marijuana company, but then outlined a way to oppose them.

“It doesn’t tell us that we have to take the first one that comes down the road. It doesn’t have to be the first one, or the second one or the tenth,” she said. She said councilors need to do what’s in the best interest of community.

Freda took a hard line against approving any medical-marijuana dispensary, saying she’s concerned they could transform into recreational drug businesses if a recreational marijuana referendum passes in November.

That line was met with a lot of head-shaking from some business applicants in the audience and Feckley noted that the only issue before the council was about medical marijuana, not recreational.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to have the License Commission to inspect commercial pool tables, such as those at a bar, instead of having the City Council issue the license.

The petition originally was for pool tables and bowling alleys, but Bodanza recommended taking bowling alleys out, as they are an entire business and therefor a different situation.

Marchand, who submitted the original petition, said that was a fair point and supported the amendment.

Councilor Sue Chalifoux-Zephir said it makes more sense for the License Commission to issue the pool table licenses, as most of what the commission does is issue licenses to sell alcohol.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Leominster Council OKs Approval Letters For Two Marijuana Facilities
Author: Michael Hartwell
Contact: (978) 343-6911
Photo Credit: Seth Perlman
Website: Sentinel & Enterprise