Orange Selectboard moves ahead with retail recreational marijuana bylaw

  • Money and marijuana. Staff file photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2018 11:20:26 PM

ORANGE — With two marijuana companies set to open in town and another having expressed interest Wednesday night, the Selectboard has decided to move forward with the adoption of a bylaw regarding retail recreational marijuana.

The bylaw would establish criteria companies must meet when applying to open a recreational marijuana shop in town as well as limit the number of such establishments allowed — the bylaw, based on a Tyngsborough bylaw, only applies to recreational, or “adult-use,” marijuana establishments, not medical marijuana establishments.

Having reviewed the Tyngsborough bylaw over the last week, members of the Selectboard Wednesday night expressed their approval and sent the bylaw to the Planning Board for review. Selectboard Chairman Ryan Mailloux was not in attendance, but had previously supported putting an “actual process” in place regarding retail marijuana applicants.

If approved by the Planning Board, the bylaw will have to go before voters at a Special Town Meeting and receive approval from the state attorney general. The next Special Town Meeting in Orange is Aug. 16, but a vote on the bylaw won’t happen until a fall Special Town Meeting, according to Town Administrator Gabriele Voelker.

“We really have no process for denying applications,” Voelker said, adding that, without the bylaw, Orange opens itself up to having as many as eight recreational marijuana shops without any way to legally say no.

Orange currently has no zoning bylaws dealing with recreational marijuana stores, Voelker said.

Any bylaw adapted would not apply to companies that already have obtained approval from the Selectboard, like Silver Therapeutics Inc., which has a letter of nonopposition, a Host Community Agreement and licenses from the state to sell both recreational and medical marijuana.

Silver Therapeutics Inc. has already purchased property on South Main Street for a store, as well as property for a cultivation center on Governor Dukakis Drive. The business is approaching the final stages, such as planning a store layout, and plans to open this year.

Fidelity Wellness Center Inc. also has a letter of nonopposition and a Host Community Agreement to open a greenhouse for cultivating marijuana at the Randall Pond Industrial Park off R.W. Moore Drive. It does not plan to open a store to sell marijuana directly to consumers.

Furthermore, PHA Industries — a company that’s been in Orange at the Randall Pond Industrial Park since 2000 — extracts chemical compounds from different substances and sells them in different industries and hopes to do the same with marijuana. It brought its plan to receive state licensing before the Selectboard Wednesday night and received preliminary support from Selectboard Vice Chairwoman Jane Peirce, who said established companies like PHA Industries are the type of marijuana companies Orange should want.

A new bylaw would require applicants to submit a detailed plan of operations, including a security plan, a business model, a management plan, plans for parking and transporting products, as well as approval from the Planning Board, police and fire departments and “any department involved with the site permitting process,” Voelker said.

The bylaw would also limit the number of retail recreational marijuana establishments to 20 percent of the number of off-site liquor licenses in town. According to Voelker, Orange has issued six such licenses, so the bylaw, if it were currently in effect, would limit recreational pot shops to two.

Peirce said she has received word from the Orange Merchants Guild, a collective of business owners in town, that the guild plans to write a letter supporting the limit.

Selectboard Clerk James Cornwell was in favor of Orange adopting a bylaw based on that of Tyngsborough.

“I think that, while I like simple, I think in this case, the more information we can put (in a bylaw), the more questions we can get answered (by applicants),” Cornwell said.

Voelker has stated there are five or six companies seriously interested in opening a marijuana establishment in Orange. Without the adoption of a bylaw, there is no way to legally limit those companies from doing so.

Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268

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