WHITMAN — Selectmen will again discuss a proposed medical marijuana growing location in Whitman at its next meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13. Residents are welcome to attend and voice their opinion on the issue.
The proposed location is at 233 Bedford St., behind Sweezey Fence.
“It will be a fully enclosed building — probably a steel building very similar to a commercial garage,” Town Administrator Frank Lynam said on Thursday, Dec 1. “It will have security as required by the state”
Ben Smith of Fresh Meadow Farm, who gave a brief review of the process during the Selectmen’s Nov. 15 meeting, will return Dec. 13, asking Selectmen to approve a letter of support or non-opposition regarding the project.
Lynam and Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green are researching the issues pertaining to the town’s obligations and rights should a grow facility be permitted, with the aim of preparing a recommendation for the board.
Lynam stressed that the town is not interested in a dispensary facility.
Medical marijuana dispensaries must be in plain view and people entering must be viewable to passersby to ensure any security issues are obvious, but it is not sufficient to sway Lynam’s opinion of how far the town would be willing to go.
He added that the one call he has received on the issue so far was “emphatically against dispensaries and OK with a grow facility.”
The letter of support or non-opposition is the next step the company, Mission Partners — to be known as Fresh Meadow Farm — must complete toward obtaining a Department of Public Health license. Because they are already in the licensing process, company officials said they qualify for the pool of applicants for a recreational marijuana license, but are now solely focused on the medical-use growing facility they hope to locate in Whitman.
“I would not be surprised to see these folks coming back to expand to the recreational piece once the dust settles on that vote,” Lynam said. “Right now the only regulations out are on medical marijuana, so it’s going to be difficult to determine how to regulate or approve a facility that’s for recreational marijuana.”
He said the grow facility is designed to be unobtrusive — there will be no signs and the hydroponic growing operation will be entirely done inside the building. Air scrubbers would prevent any odors from reaching neighbors.
Lynam also discussed the future of Whitman’s regional animal control contract with Abington, now that Hanson has opted to withdraw from the erstwhile three-town program.
“The intent to creating a district approach for animal control is to take advantage of the geographical area that encompassed Abington, Whitman and Hanson,” Lynam said. “We recognized at the time we did that, that adding Hanson to the mix was going to significantly increase the area of coverage and we had some concerns about it.”
He said the Whitman-Abington program will continue to be reviewed, adding he tends to measure the success of programs in which Whitman participates by the number of complaints received.
“We have not had any issues either in Whitman or, of late, in Abington,” Lynam said. “I would say so far it appears to be working. I’m going to evaluate that, as we normally would any program, as we move forward in the fiscal year and determine if we have the right staffing and the right coverage.”
Whitman’s part-time animal control officer resigned to attend the academy to become an environmental police officer, leaving the current animal control officer on call 24/7 to cover both towns, paid on a stipend basis. Calls are prioritized as to level of need.
Hanson Town Administrator Michael McCue had met several weeks ago with Lynam and Abington Town Manager Richard Lafond, at which time the three concluded that either they go in different directions or obtain more funding to hire additional staff. McCue determined Hanson would be better off going solo and the other towns agreed. Hanson Selectmen voted Nov. 29 to appoint Ron Clark as interim animal control officer for Hanson. A permanent position would be posted in the spring.
“Apparently there were issues in Hanson that they feel they were not adequately being provided for and they have requested to be released from the contract early,” Lynam said. “I have no intention of holding anyone captive.”
He said he wishes Hanson well and will bill them only for the period the contract was in force.