Medical Marijuana, Burlington, News, Dispensary, Board of Selectmen

 August 19 2015

Selectmen Vote to Approve Continuing Talks with Medical Marijuana Group in Split Decision

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen voted in a split decision to continue negotiations with a collaborative group that is seeking to establish a medical marijuana dispensary in town. 


During the selectmen meeting last month, Town Administrator John Petrin explained that Mission Massachusetts, a collaboration of four groups out of Worcester, has filed an application to set up a distribution point in town.  


This week the town administrator said the group is moving forward with that plan and has applied for a license from the state. 


Since that meeting he, along with Chairman of the Board Michael Runyan and Vice Chair Chris Hartling, has met with representatives from the group to discuss their plans and visions for the Burlington location. 


He said the group seems very professional and has the resources and background to fulfill the promises they are making about how the plan will be run and secured. 


Runyan agreed, saying it was not a “fly-by-night” operation. 


“We’ve been very impressed with their credentials,” he said. 


At the last meeting Petrin had 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 added, send a letter of disapproval. 


This week the board had to decide whether or not continue discussions with the group with the possibility of signing a letter of support. Petrin said that what some communities are doing is trying to negotiate a “host agreement” in return for a letter of support.


This agreement, Runyan explained later, would allow the town to negotiate for concessions from the group. One big thing he said was important for the town is the security of the dispensary and in that light he said he wants it to be located in a place that is visible to police patrols, not tucked away in an industrial park. 


Also, being a non-profit, the group will be required to contribute some of its profits to the town, Runyan added. He said these funds might go into the general fund or go to specific programs like public safety, support for the Department of Children and Families and toward an anti-drug abuse program. 


“We want something that is germane to what they do,” he said. 


Runyan said he has received some emails from concerned residents and a couple have suggested the selectmen have Town Meeting take a vote on whether to move forward with negotiations on the “host community” status. 

We’re here to make the tough decisions,” he said. “Some have suggested we pass the buck and send it to Town Meeting but my thinking if that we take no action on this, which is legal, they can come here regardless. 


The board voted 3-2 to continue discussions with the group. Selectmen Bob Hogan and Daniel Grattan voted against it. 


Grattan said that even though medical marijuana is now legal, the town does not need to be welcoming. 


“It’s the law of the land but I’m not thoroughly convinced we need to roll out the red carpet either,” he said. 


Resident Maureen Drossos spoke against proceeding with discussions, echoing Grattan’s statement that the town does not need to welcome in a dispensary. She also brought a petition with signatures from over 20 of her neighbors who agree with her. 


“I ask that you do not support it,” she said. “I did not think this was the direction the town was heading or that this is the type of business we’d be trying to bring in. I don’t think we need it in our backyard.” 

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