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Medical Marijuana

Pioneer Gardens aims to cultivate pot for eastern  part of state

DEERFIELD — Pioneer Gardens Inc. of Deerfield hopes to cultivate medical marijuana for a nonprofit in the eastern part of the state with three licenses to dispense in three different locations.

Northampton lawyer Richard Evans, who represents Pioneer Gardens, said the Deerfield perennial plant producer was “considering the prospects of affiliating with an applicant.”

Evans, a longtime advocate of medical marijuana, represents a total of nine clients with applications in 10 counties.

Pioneer Gardens, which has produced perennials since 1996 on Mill Village Road, did not submit its own application for a medical marijuana dispensary. Rather, it plans to cultivate for a licensed dispensary in eastern Massachusetts, Evans said.

“Pioneer Gardens is in the early stages,” Evans said. “Nothing has come together. They are exploring their options. There are a number of hurdles, including the town. They don’t want to do anything that the town is not satisfied with.”

Earlier this month, Pioneer Gardens owner Jaap Molenaar expressed his interest in turning his perennial plant business into a marijuana cultivation center to the Board of Selectmen.

Although he has three acres of greenhouses he could use to grow marijuana, Molenaar did not know how many acres he’d use. Molenaar did not return calls for comment on this story.

According to the state Department of Public Health, cultivation has to be in a locked, enclosed facility and not open to the public.

The state Department of Public Health released the names of 181 nonprofit corporations who submitted applications by Thursday’s deadline to run one or more of the 35 future medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. Of those 181 applications, seven named Franklin County as “first preference” locations to open dispensaries.

One of those seven was Jim Pasiecnik of J.M. Pasiecnik Farms on River Road in Whately.

Pasiecnik submitted an application to open a cultivation and dispensary center under the name JM Farm’s Patient Group Inc. He has eyed the Deerfield and Whately industrial parks as potential spots for dispensaries.

Last November, voters approved a ballot question to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. It allowed up to 35 nonprofit marijuana dispensaries statewide, with no more than five dispensaries in any one county.

Applicants are now undergoing screening for background checks, nonprofit status and financial viability. In mid-September, the state expects to announce those eligible for Phase 2 of the application. During the second phase, a selection committee will review the applicants and select dispensary sites through a competitive process.

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