Rochester receives first recreational marijuana application
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that Megan’s Organic Market was seeking a license to grow.
ROCHESTER – A company seeks to sell recreational marijuana in town, which would be the first pot operation in Rochester.
Megan’s Organic Market has applied for a retail marijuana license at an underdeveloped lot between routes 28 and 495, currently known as “Pad Site G” in the Rochester Crossroads development.
The site is not far from the Wareham town line.
Megan’s Organic Market is a company based out of San Luis Obispo, Calif., with cannabis retail storefronts in California only.
They are required to have a host agreement with the town before they can apply for any permits.
At this time, they are requesting to negotiate the community host agreement with the Select Board.
A community host agreement is a contract that is negotiated between the town and a marijuana establishment that includes all terms necessary for the establishment to operate.
After that agreement is signed by the Select Board, Megan’s Organic Market will need to go to the Planning Board for approval, said Town Administrator Glenn Cannon.
There are currently 59 businesses with recreational licenses in Plymouth County according to data from the Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts.
There are no licenses in the Tri-Town currently, although adult-use retail and delivery are approved in Marion. Zoning and delivery is pending in Rochester, and banned in Mattapoisett.
Mattapoisett has a bylaw in place that blocks such establishments. Mattapoisett residents continued to express their anti-cultivation sentiment at Town Meeting in 2019, where they shot down a proposed bylaw change that would allow for recreational cultivation in town.
In 2018, Rochester residents attempted to place a moratorium to block non-medical marijuana establishments, but it was rejected by the attorney general, who said the effort was too late. The town should have already completed a bylaw to block those by that point, according to the attorney general.
In 2019, Rochester residents passed a bylaw at Town Meeting that established recreational marijuana regulations.
The bylaw allows marijuana cultivators in agricultural or residential lots, product manufacturers, testing laboratories, or other licensed recreational facilities in the industrial zone. Any marijuana retailers would only be allowed in the general commercial district.
The bylaw also places facility security at the discretion of the police and fire department and states that products or paraphernalia cannot be visible and abutters cannot smell odors from the facility.
The town also voted to impose a three percent excise tax on the sale of marijuana, to be collected at the same time as state sales tax.
As a result of that vote, if the town can reach an agreement with Megan’s Organic Market, the town would receive three percent of the funds from the sales.
Town Counsel Blair Bailey explained that this money would go to a general fund, which could be set aside for whatever the town wanted to use it for.
Discussion of the application and community host agreement with the Select Board will proceed after a preliminary meeting with the applicant, Cannon said. The meeting has not been set up yet.