More pot shops coming to the island | News

A recreational marijuana cultivator is seeking to set up a retail shop at 9 Whistlestop Way.

But in order to do so, Ocean Breeze Cultivation LLC will need to acquire a special permit for the right to operate a retail storefront defined as a recreational marijuana retailer.

“We have our provisional license from the Cannabis Control Commission to occupy that dwelling and are hoping that it all works out to build out after the October 6 Planning and Development Standing Committee,” owner Andrew Schwartz told the Times on Wednesday.

Owners and Falmouth residents Wallace and Andrew Schwartz opened up the family-owned cultivation center at Gloucester Engineering’s building at 11 Dory Road about three years back.

Their cultivation center grows marijuana and manufactures edibles such as gummy bears, chocolates, brownies and other such pot-based products, without a retail component.

According to Ocean Breeze’s website, the Dory Road facility is equipped with “the latest tech, and paired with time-tested methods that have a proven track record of success, our facility is 43,000 square feet and includes 2,200 square foot grow rooms built with insulated aluminum panels, multiple-tier growing tables, air movers in each room, and third-party nutrient monitoring. Our lighting system includes LEDs supplemented with a mixed checkerboard spectrum of HPS (high-pressure sodium lights) and CMH (ceramic metal halide lights) — providing the perfect combination for healthy and vibrant plant growth.”

Since Ocean Breeze opened, the family has done “really well,” Andrew Schwartz said, explaining that company went from a skeletal crew of 12 to 40.

“We made a point to hire locally,” he added.

Expanding their business to retail was always the plan, Director of Security and Operations Sam Schwartz explained.

He added that the retail space will sell products such as flowers, pre-rolls, wax, lotions and products made with c{span}annabidiol, a component of marijuana known as CBD that does not by itself cause a “high{/span}.”

According to Ocean Breeze’s{span} {/span}special permit application, the addition of a retail shop would “utilize an existing retail store location and will be an improvement to the shopping center as the space currently sits vacant.”

More than just one

Ocean Breeze is not the only retailer seeking to set up shop on the island as retail dispensary Fresh Fields LLC has been eyeing Essex Avenue’s Mobil station for quite some time.

Under Fresh Fields’ plan, the first floor of the building will continue to be used as a gas station convenience store and the second floor will be a new use of a marijuana retail dispensary.

Since it has signed a host community agreement with the city and acquired its Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Environmental Notification certificate, required due to the site’s proximity to wetlands, Fresh Fields LLC is looking to acquire an application for a retail marijuana establishment special permit and an exception to lowland requirements special permit.

The company plans to go before the city’s Planning and Development Standing Committee and Conservation Commission on Oct. 6

Happy Valley Ventures was the first pot shop to open up this side of the bridge in 2020.

“This is an important industry that will bring not only a service that our residents wanted but added revenue in our schools, public safety, and capital projects across the city,” Councilor Steve LeBlanc told the Times when the shop opened.

Retail cannabis for the city is capped at three shops, with the licenses snagged by Ocean Breeze, Fresh Fields, and Happy Valley.

City Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Chris Sicuranza said that while there is a cap on retail, there are unlimited cultivation and manufacturing licenses.

Legal battle

While Ocean Breeze, Fresh Fields and Happy Valleys seem to be doing well within the city, other aspiring marijuana shops have found themselves in court instead.

Hooligans Enterprises LLC, a corporation formed by Mark Guinane of Manchester, had hoped to open a retail marijuana business at the Gloucester Crossing shopping center.

Instead of his hopes becoming a reality, Guinane received a letter from the city attorney Charles “Chip” Payson informing him that the city had denied a request to enter into a host community agreement “on any terms.”

In a complaint filed in Salem Superior Court, Guinane’s lawyer says Hooligans met all of the requirements laid out under the law and by the city, submitting a 120-page application in March, holding a community forum in May (after being forced by the pandemic to reschedule it from March), and following up on the city’s requests for additional information regarding traffic, security and financing.

Since then, Hooligans’ attorney Shawn McCormack and the city’s attorney Krisna Basu submitted a stipulation of dismissal without prejudice on Sept. 14. This means that the case is only dismissed temporarily and the plaintiff will be allowed to re-file charges, adjust claims, or bring the case to another court.

Court reporter Julie Manganis contributed to this article.

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford may be contacted at 978-675-2705, tbradford@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at TayBradford97.

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