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Medical Marijuana

Deerfield selectmen sign letter of support for pot dispensary

SOUTH DEERFIELD — On a yellow steno pad in handwritten scrawl, the Board of Selectmen signed a letter of support to have a medical marijuana dispensary in town that falls within the zoning overlay district.

The board did not name any particular medical marijuana dispensary applicant, but J.M Farm’s Patient Group Inc., directed by James Pasiecnik of Whately, Joshua Sodaitis of Somerville and Nicholas Spagnola of Revere, made sure to grab the note Thursday morning on their way to Boston to include in their application to run a dispensary and grow center in Franklin County.

Pasiecnik is competing for one of 35 available state licenses to run a registered medical marijuana dispensary. He is one among five vying for a license for Franklin County.

Of the five applicants, Pasiecnik is the only one who has made his plans public. If granted a license, he plans to run a dispensary, cultivation center and retail all from one location at a 15,000-square-foot site at 10 Greenfield Road.

J.M. Farm’s Patient Group would rent a building from Mark Valone of South Deerfield, which would allow the property to stay on the tax rolls. One past concern was losing tax money if a nonprofit bought a building for a marijuana facility.

Another group, A New Leaf, directed by Joshua Goldman of Montague, was scheduled to meet with the selectmen on Wednesday, but never showed. The Pasiecnik group did not have an appointment, but it made its case for a support letter during public comment.

With hours left before their application was due in Boston, Pasiecnik and his partners were unrelenting in their request for a supportive letter, which can help boost their application. Accompanying the Pasiecnik group was Kayvan Khalatbari of Denver Relief Consulting, a nationally known leader in the medical marijuana business working in the District of Columbia and 18 states. And filling half the Town Office room were young local supporters of Pasiecnik.

The letter was intended to be a letter of non-opposition. The Board of Selectmen is also the Board of Health. Under both hats, the board will be the permitting authority.

According to interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn, the town’s lawyer advised not to give a support letter to any applicant to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

The J.M. Farm’s Patient Group and its supporters pushed for a letter of non-opposition instead.

“Taking this away from the quality of their application, the dispensary could go somewhere else and Deerfield will end up with hundreds of people growing in their home,” Khalatbari warned.

Having residents grow their own marijuana plants because of a hardship as a result of distance to the dispensary was the persuasive factor for the selectmen.

“I don’t have a problem having a non-opposition letter and attaching our town meeting vote,” said Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness. “I want a dispensary in town. Why I put so much effort in is to not have certifications for self-grow issued. That would be my nightmare.”

Selectman David Wolfram hesitated, wishing to make sure the board would not have a future conflict.

In the end, with its zoning overlay district for dispensaries and overwhelming 2012 vote to legalize marijuana, selectmen gave their support to a dispensary in town, but didn’t throw their support behind any one applicant.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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