Montague Selectboard discusses forming committee to allocate marijuana revenue

  • Marijuana buds. The Montague Selectboard is considering forming a committee to allocate money the town receives through marijuana sales. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2021 3:44:19 PM

MONTAGUE — The Selectboard is considering forming a committee to allocate money the town receives through marijuana sales.

The discussion was brought forth by Selectboard Clerk Matt Lord during the board’s Monday meeting. The committee would be tasked with assessing proposals and determining which areas would be best to benefit with the funding amassed by the state-imposed 3% “community impact fee” tax. The Selectboard took no action to establish the committee, but agreed to do further research to better inform a decision.

“My idea is we create a small committee, three to five people, try to request interest from specific areas, whether it’s folks who want to look at how it could be spent in schools, which is one place where we already have spent that money, (or) areas where social justice and equity may be a focus of that sort of spending,” Lord said. “Those do overlap with some portions of agreements that we have with cannabis facilities that are not yet contributing impact fees.”

Town Meeting voters established a marijuana policy in 2020 ensuring that all revenue to the town from any marijuana businesses in Montague will be held in a special account, mainly for one-time expenses, rather than be funneled into the town’s general operating budget. Since then, Town Meeting voters have approved the use of money stored in the Cannabis Impact Fee Fund, including $50,000 to develop a pilot program focused on substance abuse prevention programming with families and children that was approved in October.

Town Administrator Steve Ellis said he has reached out to schools within the Gill-Montague Regional School District to field ideas for how the funding could benefit them. Lord said that ultimately, the determination of how funding is allocated must be made by identifying what strategy is sure to be effective.

“The goal here is to find what sorts of programs fit within what we have considered as evidence-based,” Lord explained.

Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said the town should keep in mind that some of the funding may have to be put toward streetscape improvements, rather than just educational or social services.

“There’s also a possibility that some of this funding will be needed for more brick-and-mortar infrastructure, traffic lights or safer pedestrian crossings to get to a (marijuana) facility,” he added.

The idea to form a committee would have to go through a public meeting process. Before that happens, the Selectboard plans to take more time to consider its options.

“To me,” Kuklewicz said, “the safest thing is to have a committee, but the most cumbersome thing is to have a committee.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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