On Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen will hear from a pair of medical marijuana dispensaries seeking to set up shop along the Route 110 corridor in Westford.
Hearings for dispensaries at 3 Lan Dr. and 317 Littleton Rd. will request either a letter of support or non-opposition from the Board of Selectmen.
The hearing begins the third phase in an approval process for medical marijuana dispensaries that only began to take effect in 2013 after Massachusetts voters supported a referendum in 2012 that would allow the dispensaries.
These two dispensary applications are the first following 2014 approval of a Westford zoning bylaw regulating the location of where proposed medical marijuana dispensaries could be placed, also as the Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) Overlay District.
Selectmen will hear first from Seven Point of Massachusetts, the dispensary proposed at Lan Drive.
Seven Point/Sky Processing CEO and President Brad Zerman has already opened medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois and Colorado and also oversees the operation of nearly 2,200 ATMs in 39 states, Washington D.C. Puerto Rico.
“Westford had an interesting overlay district for an RMD because it’s in a commercial area,” he said. “Those are the first choices to go to because normally they’re more safe and secure than somewhere on the outskirts of town, or somewhere not well lit or somewhere in an industrial area.”
The Seven Point application will be followed by an application by Nature’s Remedy of Massachusetts, which seeks to place a dispensary at 317 Littleton Rd., near the former location of R.J. Bradley Bike and Ski.
That application will be presented by attorney Valerio Romano, who has also represented Seven Point elsewhere in the country.
Tenants on Lan Drive have expressed concerns over the proposals due to security fears, which both applicants seek to challenge during the Tuesday meeting.
Both applicants cited studies claiming that area property values rose elsewhere in the country after dispensaries opened. They also noted several steps any patient must take before even being allowed to enter a dispensary, where they are then subjected to a variety of on-site security measures.
“Massachusetts is one of the most heavily regulated states in the country when it comes to medical marijuana,” said Romano. “In Massachusetts, marijuana coming out of a dispensary is almost treated like plutonium.”
However, Romano also praised Massachusetts’ approach to medical marijuana dispensaries as well, stating that the state’s requirement for all dispensaries to be non-profit organizations helps create an atmosphere that is more focused on treating patients than making money.
Under the RMD Overlay District zoning bylaw, only one dispensary would be allowed to operate in town. If the Selectmen approve a letter of support or non-opposition to either applicant, the process would then move forward to other town boards before the process is complete.