Leominster – Despite a formal recommendation from the city’s Ways and Means Committee to grant a letter of non-opposition to Prime Wellness Centers Inc., allowing it to open Leominster’s first medical-marijuana dispensary, the City Council voted Monday night to table the requests of all three applicants trying to open marijuana-related facilities in the city.
At-large Councilor Claire Freda, serving as acting chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, said she still has questions for all three applicants and did not want to make a decision Monday night.
She also expressed concerns over how the state possibly voting to legalize recreational marijuana in November might effect the process already taking place in Leominster.
“My recommendation for all of them would be to table them until after November, when the vote comes in, so we know if we’re dealing strictly with medical marijuana or something that could be bigger and more of an issue for the city,” she said.
Ways and Means Chairwoman Gail Feckley and Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza, however, argued against postponing the decision.
“I’m starting to become concerned we aren’t coming to a consensus on anything, and we’re spending a lot of money and it’s really starting to bother me,” said Bodanza.
He later added, “I wouldn’t be opposed to tabling this, but I would really like for us to find a way to move forward.”
“I am in total concert with the Ward 4 councilor,” said Feckley, referring to Bodanza.
“I feel that we are just rolling this thing up the hill like Sisyphus.”
Feckley also said she remains “very strong” with her recommendation to grant a letter of non-opposition to Prime Wellness Centers, but a 5-2 vote effectively tabled the application.
Also tabled were the applications of the nonprofit Alternative Therapies Group Inc., which, like Prime Wellness Centers, is trying to open a dispensary, and of a cultivation-only facility from Middlesex Integrative Medicine.
Legal Affairs Chairman John Dombrowski had originally recommended to grant a letter of non-opposition to Middlesex Integrative Medicine before ultimately asking for that application to be tabled.
“My personal feeling is that a cultivation facility is a far different animal than a dispensary,” he said. “I understand the concern about November and recreation, but the reality is that with a cultivation center, it doesn’t matter much.”
The only time the council completely agreed was during a leave-to-withdraw vote regarding a special-permit request by the nonprofit DO Health Massachusetts, which was also seeking approval to open a dispensary.
Unlike Prime Wellness Centers and Alternative Therapies Group, DO Health Massachusetts had been eliminated from the selection process after scoring the lowest on the council’s grading rubric. Arguing that the council had made mistakes during the selection process, DO Health was granted the chance at the last meeting to argue its case Monday night.
“We’re trying to work through this,” said Patrick McCarty, a local developer working with DO Health. “We understand it’s been a wavy path to the finish, and we’re all just trying to stay in the race.”
“Between reading the paper and watching TV, people have been given the opinion that we didn’t follow the rules,” said Ward 2 Councilor Wayne Nickel after the issue of possibly suspending the council’s rules arose. “You say you don’t have to go by those rules. I should think it wouldn’t take a lot to realize the pressure that would put on the council.”
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Leominster Delays Decision On Medical Marijuana Approvals
Author: Peter Jasinski
Contact: (978) 343-6911
Photo Credit: Andy Nelson
Website: Sentinel & Enterprise