Medical marijuana dispensary changes site to Conz Street
NORTHAMPTON — Representatives from the company planning to operate Hampshire County’s only medical marijuana dispensary in Northampton said Tuesday they intend to occupy a former medical office building on Conz Street not far from Interstate 91, rather than a site in Florence as previously announced.
Kevin Fisher, executive director and chief operating officer at New England Treatment Access Inc., said the company is still on target to begin selling marijuana to qualified patients starting in September, but will do so out of the old Pioneer Valley Family Medicine at 118 Conz St. instead of the former Pro Corp. manufacturing plant at 296 Nonotuck St. in Florence.
Fisher said the Conz Street site is more central, has a parking lot and will provide easy access to Interstate 91 for the many patients coming from throughout the region. It is also served by a pair of Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus routes.
“It’s just a better location for the town and for the patients,” said Fisher.
He and other members of New England Treatment’s leadership team spent several hours Tuesday meeting with various city officials, including the Planning Department, to go over their plans, .
Wayne Feiden, director of the city’s Office of Planning and Development, said the group has yet to file an application with his department for site plan review by the Planning Board. He said the dispensary is allowed on that portion of Conz Street under the city’s zoning, meaning the board will likely spend its time studying traffic flow and other issues typical in site-plan review. In its application to the state, the company said it anticipates 1,660 patients and some 2,000 pounds of marijuana in its first year.
“It’s going to be fairly high volume in terms of traffic,” Feiden said.
Other than the site, Fisher said New England Treatment’s plans remain unchanged. Assuming the state Department of Public Health sticks to its estimated timetable for license approvals, the company would begin growing marijuana at its cultivating plant in Franklin in a couple of weeks with an eye toward distributing it to its two dispensaries in time for a Sept. 1 opening date. In addition to Northampton, the company also secured a license to operate in Brookline.
The dispensary would be open 10 hours a day nearly every day of the year. The company expects to hire about 25 people to operate the dispensary, and between 100 and 150 people for its entire operation.
Fisher said the dispensary will be secure. Customers will enter through an outside door but will not have access to the interior of the site where the marijuana is kept. Cameras will be installed throughout the building and a security guard will be on site when the dispensary is open.
The company is also preparing to deliver marijuana to patients in the Northampton area, as required by state law. Fisher said the deliveries would occur from the company’s cultivation facility in Franklin and not from the dispensary in Northampton. The marijuana will be delivered by two-person teams in secured and unmarked vehicles that will have cameras, GPS trackers and other security features, he said.
In addition to Fisher, New England Treatment’s leadership includes Arnon Vered, chief financial officer, and Leslie Tarr Laurie, Tapestry Health’s founder and leader for 40 years before her resignation in January. The company considered the Pro Corp. building in Florence because that’s where Tapestry Health is based, but those plans changed after Laurie left the organization and the medical offices on Conz Street became available when the state did not select one of the other groups that wanted to open a dispensary in Hampshire County.
Three companies seeking Hampshire County approval by the state DPH were denied a license. They are Hampshire Health Inc., Patriot Care Corp. and Kind Medical Inc.
Patriot Care, however, was among several companies offered an opportunity to reapply. Those companies must seek a dispensary in one of four counties where no license has been issued. Those are Berkshire, Dukes, Franklin and Nantucket counties.
If it can win a license for Franklin County, Patriot Care would grow its marijuana at a vacant portion of a building at 28 Gaylord St. in South Hadley. Robert Mayerson, the CEO of Patriot Care, told the South Hadley Select Board last month that all growing would occur indoors and that there will be no odors coming from the facility.
At the time, Mayerson said his top choice for a dispensary would be in Greenfield.