Medical Marijuana, Dispensary, Burlington, Board of Selectmen, Mission Massachusetts

 September 17 2015

Selectmen to Vote on Community Benefit Agreement with Medical Marijuana Group

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen are getting closer to taking a vote on whether or not to show support for a medical marijuana dispensary that is looking to come to town. 


At the meeting on Monday night Town Administrator John Petrin along with Selectmen Chair Michael Runyan and Vice Chair Chris Hartling said they had finalized a community benefit agreement with Mission Massachusetts, a medical marijuana group out of Worcester that is applying to the state for permission to set up a dispensary in Burlington. 


Entering into talks on the agreement was approved by the board at its last meeting with a 3-2 vote, with Selectmen Dan Grattan and Bob Hogan voting against it. 


In previous meetings, Petrin explained that when a company looking to set up a dispensary applies for a location the town is limited in what it can do. The Board of Selectmen can choose to write a letter of support, a letter of non-committal or take no action at all. It cannot, he said, send a letter of disapproval. Medical marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts and it is the state that has final say on whether or not a dispensary can be set up in a town it has applied to locate in. 


One thing a town can do, however, is enter into talks with a group behind a dispensary to try and get benefits for the municipality in exchange for providing a letter of support. That is the agreement that was finalized on Monday. 


Petrin said that in the agreement Mission Massachusetts agreed to give $20,000 in donations to Burlington organizations and to give the town 3 percent of gross annual sales with a minimum of $250,000 per year. The dispensary would also pay real estate tax though it might be exempt from personal property tax. It has also agreed to try and hire Burlington residents. 


Petrin said he thought the deal was generous when compared to what other communities are working out with similar organizations. If, however, Mission Massachusetts creates a better deal with another community then Burlington could re-open the talks and work towards getting more perks. 


The Board of Selectmen is going to vote on whether or not to accept the agreement during a special meeting on September 21. 


So far, Petrin said, he is not aware of any lease agreement signed by Mission Massachusetts for a specific location in town. There are limitations on where they can set up based on a Town Meeting vote taken last year

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