NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — There are more hurdles still to clear, but the city of New Bedford has negotiated an agreement with a health care company to build and operate a medical marijuana cultivation-production facility — which expressly will not dispense to patients.
The office of Mayor Jon Mitchell announced Thursday the city signed a Host Community Agreement with ARL Healthcare, Inc., of Newton, Mass. The health care provider still has to get approval for the facility from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
If approved, the facility would be located in the New Bedford Industrial Park on John Vertente Boulevard.
The company has agreed to several conditions the city wanted.
ARL will not exercise an exemption from local taxes, and pay all requisite taxes. In addition, the company will make annual payments to the city to offset social impacts and costs associated with the facility. In the first five years, the minimum payment will be $425,000, but could be much more, the mayor’s office said.
The company will also endeavor to employ local residents and use city vendors under municipal job-creation efforts.
Mitchell set down ground rules three years ago for medical marijuana facility developers seeking City support, including that facilities can only be for cultivation or production, not dispensing products for the retail market, implement strong security plans, and be located “far removed” from neighborhoods and schools.
“While the Host Community Agreement represents an important milestone toward the operation of a medical marijuana cultivation/production facility, it is important to keep in mind that many steps remain which are outside the ability of the City to control,” Mitchell said in a statement.
Besides getting state health department approval, ARL is still trying to acquire the Vertente Boulevard property.
The city council also has to approve the Host Community Agreement.
This summer, the city council sent a letter of support to the DPH in favor of allowing a dispensary to open. Beacon Compassion Center would be located on Mount Pleasant Street. Mitchell said at the time it was not wise to open such a business in the middle of a regional opioid crisis.
In November, voters across Massachusetts approved the use of recreational marijuana to start December 15, though the drug remains classified a controlled substance at the federal level.