SOUTH DEERFIELD — It’s a question on everybody’s mind: If the proposed Routes 5 and 10 medical marijuana dispensary currently moving through town government review is approved, could it become a recreational marijuana facility?
In a recent email, Valerio Romano, an attorney representing dispensary applicant New England Patient Network, addressed that question. Romano said, “if Deerfield wants a responsible partner to work with on adult use in the future, NEPN will be the logical choice.”
Right now, Romano clarified, the nonprofit organization has local and state approval for a medical marijuana operation at 4 Greenfield Road, not a recreational facility.
However, the recreational marijuana law passed last November, Bill H.1561, seems to make it easy for medical marijuana facilities to operate recreational pot stores.
“All entities registered by the Department of Public Health as a medical marijuana treatment center or a registered marijuana dispensary, and in good standing, shall be issued a marijuana retail licenses for off-premises consumption as a matter of right,” the bill states.
State approval does not equal local approval, however. A caveat elsewhere notes, “with regard to the issuance and supervision of marijuana retail licenses, local licensing authorities shall have such powers and authority.”
Addressing permit requirements, Romano said, “New England Patient Network’s proposal is subject to special permit by the Selectboard. That permit will only allow the medical marijuana use. If NEPN wanted to change that use, they would have to go back in front of the special permit granting authority for permission. This proposal is about helping sick people in the Commonwealth.”
Looking ahead, Selectboard Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness said, personally, she’s not opposed to having a recreational pot facility in Deerfield. By way of explanation, Shores Ness said it would be better to have the facility under the Police Department’s direct scrutiny and