Deerfield delays opinion on pot proposal
SOUTH DEERFIELD — When asked by local farmer James Pasiecnik whether they would support his application to open a registered medical marijuana growing and dispensary operation in town, the Board of Selectmen demurred.
Instead, the board said recently that it needed more information from the state Department of Public Health before it considered a proposal.
The board has contacted the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards to get guidance on the impacts a dispensary could have on cities and towns.
Pasiecnik, a longtime Whately potato farmer with a creamee stand on River Road, is among 158 applicants vying for one of 35 dispensary licenses the state can issue. Each of the state’s 13 counties is required to have at least one licensed dispensary and no more than five.
Under the nonprofit name JM Farm’s Patient Group, Pasiecnik proposes a 35,000-square-foot cultivation center at 207 River Road by his farm. He has not disclosed exactly where he’d open a dispensary, but he said he is interested in lots available in the adjacent Whately and Deerfield industrial parks off Route 116. Pasiecnik’s partners are Joshua Sodaitis of Somerville and Nick Spagnola of Revere.
Part of the application process is demonstrating community support.
With eyes on the two industrial parks, Pasiecnik and his partners began courting both Whately and Deerfield selectmen last week, appearing at board meetings flanked with their Boston lawyers from Vicente Sederberg LLC, and medical marijuana patients.
Sodaitis made the same pitch to the Deerfield town leaders as he did to the Whately board a night before, substituting the two town names.
The Whately board gave its support, but the Deerfield board held off.
Questions the Deerfield leaders have stem from a statewide information session on medical marijuana hosted by the state earlier this month.
Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness and Health Agent Richard Calisewski attended the meeting.
“It was clear (the Department of Public Health hasn’t) considered local issues,” Ness said.
Ness’ questions include what kind of community support does the state require, what kind of training will the state require for dispensary employees and how will the nonprofits be held accountable for the promises they make to cities and towns.
Ness also worries there is a lack of communication to local police departments and between state agencies, specifically the departments of public health and revenue.
Another concern for Ness is the possibility of a nontaxable nonprofit facility opening in the industrial park — 75 acres intended to be developed to expand the tax base.
“There’s unending questions from the local level (the state) wasn’t answering,” Ness said. “I’ve come away from the meeting absolutely convinced this will be a train wreck for us locally.”
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.