A Town Council Subcommittee voted to recommend the full Council approve a Community Host Agreement with the group seeking to open an adult use marijuana dispensary in Watertown.
The agreement is needed for the applicants, Natural Selections, to apply for a license to sell marijuana for recreational use from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. The legislation that came out of the ballot question legalizing the sale of adult use marijuana does not allow the Town to prevent all dispensaries from opening in town, but it has limited the number to three.
Before it can open, the dispensary would not only need a license from the state but also a special permit from the Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals.
Natural Selections previously received approval from the Town and the state to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 23 Elm Street in East Watertown. Now the group seeks to sell cannabis for adult use from the same location.
The Economic Development and Planning subcommittee voted 3-0 on Monday night to recommend the approval of the Community Host Agreement.
Councilor Vincent Piccirilli, a member of the subcommittee, noted that East End Councilor Angeline Kounelis contacted him to pass on her opposition to having either an adult use or medical marijuana facility at the location on Elm Street.
What’s In The Agreement
The draft agreement includes a community impact fee to be paid by Natural Selections to the town to cover the cost of town services to the dispensary, including police, fire, inspections, permitting and consulting services. The dispensary would pay 3 percent of its annual gross sales on a quarterly basis, according to the agreement.
In addition, Natural Selections would have to pay for the cost of any consultants hired by the Town related to land use application for the facility.
The agreement also calls for Natural Selections to work with the police on placements of cameras and other security measures.
The dispensary would have to make a “good faith effort” to hire Watertown residents to work in the facility, and to use local businesses and contractors for services.
Aidan O’Donovan, chief operating officer of Natural Selections, said that the company had the same policy when it opened a dispensary in Northglenn, Colo. (it has recently been sold).
“We didn’t commit to a certain percentage (of employees from the Northglenn),” O’Donovan said. “What we did is every application, if it said the person was from the City of Northglenn, they would go to the top of the pile. We get 100s of applications.”
He added that they used local companies for services such as signage and T-shirt printing.
The agreement would last five years, after which time it would be reviewed and updated.
Natural Selections has yet to open for medical marijuana sales. The dispensary got approval from the ZBA in May 2018, but O’Donovan said that state inspectional services have been backed up with the influx of dispensaries in Massachusetts.
The most optimistic estimate is that Natural Selections would start selling recreational marijuana within 10 months, O’Donovan said, but he said it may be longer.
There are other dispensaries in surrounding communities ahead of Natural Selections in getting an adult use license. O’Donovan said there are four in Newton, four in Somerville, two in Arlington and nine in Boston, including a couple in neighborhoods close to Watertown.
As for medical marijuana sales, O’Donovan said that he has observed that the state is concentrating on adult use dispensaries, not medical marijuana. He said it could be between 8 and 14 months before Natural Selections is open for medical patients.