Three pot shops chosen to move forward

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Photo courtesy of the Town of North Attleborough FaceBook Page

Three pot shops chosen to move forward

Last Friday, three of the six marijuana retailers chosen by the town to submit Host Community Agreements were notified that they have been selected to move forward in the approval process.

The businesses and proposed locations are Pure Roots—to be located at the present Salon 2000 at 80 East Washington St.; Holland Brands—the present Case store at 1320 South Washington St., and Green Leaf Health—which would be at the Carpets Plus at 91 George Leven Drive.

The estimated time for these retailers to complete the Cannabis Control Commission process, the Town’s permitting process–the Board of Health, Town Council, and Planning Board—and remodeling and outfitting the stores is close to two years.

In November 2016 residents voted to legalize adult use of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by a vote of 8,230 to 6,953. In October 2018 three articles at Town Meeting were approved, related to businesses selling marijuana for adult use. Town boards and departments met for six months to decide on locations and opted for the Route 1 Corridor and the town’s industrial park. Up to six licenses can be issued, but at this time only three applicants will be allowed to move forward. 

On a related note, hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs have met with state officials to oppose bills that would add houses of worship, daycare centerss, and places where children might congregate to the list of places these companies must stay away from. Marijuana businesses are already prohibited near schools. 

State law bans marijuana establishments from being “located within 500 feet of a pre-existing public or private school providing education in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12.” Bills (H 3527 filed by Rep. Hannah Kane and S 1122 filed by Sen. Joseph Boncore at the request of a constituent) would add to that list any “daycare center, or any facility in which children commonly congregate,” and “church, synagogue temple, or place of worship.” 

Chauncy Spencer, a Boston resident who is working to open a marijuana retail store in the city, told the Committee on Cannabis Policy that the bills would severely limit where his company could operate.

“What that does is create, effectively, a ban in our city. There are over 100 churches, just churches alone, in the city of Boston and probably more daycares,” he said. Spencer added that the bills would disproportionately harm minority business owners. “I would hope that we would be careful about implementing such bans because we were supposed to include people from these areas in the industry and not lock them out.”

However, North Attleborough’s bylaws already include such restrictions. According to the bylaw voted on at the 2018 Town Meeting, a buffer area of 300 feet measured in a straight line from the nearest point of the facility in question to the nearest point of the proposed marijuana establishment is required. This applies to houses of worship, public and private K-12 schools, and licensed daycare facilities. A 350-foot buffer is required for athletic fields of play structures. Applicants must demonstrate compliance with this requirement through provision of maps and an inventory of tenants and owners within the buffer. 

Town Planner Nancy Runkle surveyed a number of towns a year ago, and said the town’s restrictions are more open than others.

“We’re really generous where they [the applicants] can go compared to a lot of towns,” she said. “We allow marijuana [store] uses almost in all non-residential zones.”

Colin A. Young of the State House News Service contributed to this report.