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Orange marijuana business looks to start construction soon, open this year

  • Silver Therapeutics Inc. plans on opening a marijuana dispensary at 5 South Main St. in Orange by the end of the year. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID MCLELLAN



Staff Writer
Monday, September 03, 2018

ORANGE — The first-ever marijuana shop in town is slated to open this year, with indoor construction at the site expected to start in late September.

Silver Therapeutics Inc., which is also opening a marijuana dispensary in Williamstown, will open a retail marijuana location at 5 South Main St., and will have a cultivation facility in the Orange Business Park at 158 Governor Dukakis Drive.

The company has a Host Community Agreement and a letter of nonopposition from the town, has finished its property purchases, has a license to sell medical marijuana and is expecting a license to sell recreational marijuana soon.

“Our intent is for it to be a hybrid dispensary, to open it as an adult-use dispensary as well as a medical dispensary,” said Silver Therapeutics Inc. Chief Financial Officer Brendan McKee. 

According to McKee, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission has deemed its application to sell recreational marijuana complete, and has indicated the application will be reviewed by Oct. 3. McKee is confident the permit will be granted.

“The store is officially ours. Construction will start in Orange probably at the end of September,” McKee said. “We don’t think the build-out will take longer than six to eight weeks.”

McKee said having both the Orange and Williamstown locations up and running, and selling recreational and medical marijuana, by 2019 is almost definite, and the Orange location could open in early to mid November.

The idea of having a recreational marijuana store in the center of town has drawn mixed reactions from residents — although most have been positive, according to McKee — and Silver Therapeutics Inc. has held public outreach sessions to alleviate concerns. 

The first of such sessions was held in March, and Silver Therapeutics Inc. CEO Joshua Silver spoke about his vision for the store. 

“The way I think of it is it’s less like a pharmacy as a jewelry store,” said Silver, who is a lawyer. “We want to have eight or nine strains of marijuana, limit the number of products we’re selling and just do the ones we sell very good.”

Silver also said the company would refrain from using marijuana imagery on its storefront and have a strict security protocol to prevent minors from purchasing marijuana. He also said the company would be willing to support drug awareness programs for youth from the local police department.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Silver said, adding that no smoking will be allowed on-site, and that the store will have a classy look that preserves the historical aesthetic of downtown Orange.

Another company, Fidelity Wellness Center Inc., also has a letter of nonopposition and a Host Community Agreement with the town, and plans on having a greenhouse for cultivating marijuana — not a store — at the Randall Pond Industrial Park off R.W. Moore Drive. 

In addition to Silver Therapeutics Inc. and Fidelity Wellness Center Inc., half a dozen parties have expressed serious interest in opening up marijuana operations in Orange, according to Town Administrator Gabriele Voelker.

The interest has been so high, in fact, that the Selectboard has held several discussions about adopting a bylaw that would limit the number of retail recreational marijuana shops in town. As allowed by state law, residents could adopt a bylaw limiting the number of such shops to 20 percent of the number of off-site liquor licenses granted by the town — Orange has granted six off-site liquor licenses. 

There are no zoning laws — or any laws — in Orange allowing the town to limit the number of pot shops, and the Selectboard right now can not legally deny applications from the half a dozen interested companies.

In a joint meeting with the Planning Board on Aug. 22, the two bodies discussed adopting a bylaw, which voters would have to approve at a Special Town Meeting. The bylaw would only pertain to limiting retail recreational marijuana, not medical marijuana.

While no Special Town Meeting has been officially scheduled yet, Voelker has proposed a Dec. 6 Special Town Meeting, with the Selectboard signing the Special Town Meeting warrant on Nov. 14. In the meantime, the Planning Board has the authority to draft a retail marijuana-limiting bylaw and submit it as a warrant article.

For Silver Therapeutics Inc., though, the bylaw, if passed, would mean nothing, because the company has already been approved by the town. The store would still open by the end of the year.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.