Leominster – The nonprofit DO Health Massachusetts will have another two weeks to argue its case for opening a medical-marijuana dispensary in Leominster, despite the City Council’s previous decision to rule it out of the city’s ongoing selection process.
In a letter sent to the council, DO Health Massachusetts CEO Mackie Barch asked to have an interview with the council, claiming errors had been made during previous steps of the selection process.
“DOHM would ask that given the mistakes in the process that we be allowed to be interviewed for one of the dispensary and cultivation letters,” Barch wrote. “This process was intended to find the best long-term partner for the City but we believe it had the opposite effect.”
In his letter, Barch claimed the council made mistakes handling the application of Middlesex Integrative Medicine, which submitted a letter of intent and an unsigned copy of a proposed lease to the council on June 9 to prove site control of the area where it intended to open a cultivation facility. Barch argued the letter of intent did not meet the city’s criteria for site control, and that the signed copy of the same lease submitted by Middlesex Integrative Medicine on June 26 – more than two weeks after the city’s submission deadline – should not be considered valid.
In his letter, Barch also took issue with Middlesex Integrative Medicine’s proposed site, which he claimed violates city zoning regulations.
Speaking on behalf of DO Health Massachusetts on Monday night, McCarty Companies President Patrick McCarty asked councilors to consider letting the nonprofit plead its case to the council.
“I think we can all admit mistakes were made along the way. Let’s not continue to make them,” he said. “All we want is the chance for an interview.”
DO Health Massachusetts would have already come before the council for an interview as part of the city’s ongoing selection process for nonprofits trying to open medical-marijuana related facilities, but was not granted one after receiving the lowest score in a grading process that ranked four applicants.
At-large Councilor Claire Freda had suggested continuing a discussion of DO Health Massachusetts’ request for a special permit to open a Leominster facility.
“There’s questions about the process, I’d say give them the opportunity to have the conversation, keep meeting with the city solicitor, and get the opinion,” Freda said.
Describing DO Health Massachusetts’ request for a special permit before securing a necessary letter of non-opposition from the council as “putting the cart before the horse,” Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza said he was against continuing the request for another two weeks.
“I don’t see a point to it. They don’t have a letter of non-opposition to support this special permit and this can go nowhere without that,” Bodanza said. “As far as I’m concerned, this really doesn’t have a place on our agenda at this juncture.”
Ward 1 Councilor Gail Feckley agreed, referring to Barch’s letter as “smoke and mirrors” and stating that it was “muddying the waters.”
“I would be vehemently against continuing the hearing,” she said.
Bodanza and Feckley would be the only two councilors voting against continuing the hearing, as a 4-2 vote of the council meant that DO Health Massachusetts’ request for a special permit will be brought up again at the council’s Aug. 22 meeting.