Medford-City in Negotiations with Potential Marijuana Dispensary on Community Host Agreement

Additional Meetings with Other Applicants Set for January

(MEDFORD)—Last month, the City’s Cannabis Advisory Commission presented Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn with a final ranking of the nine applicants seeking to establish retail businesses in Medford.

From this list, the Mayor chose to start by interviewing the top five applicants to review and discuss parking, traffic, community benefits and other key priorities. The Mayor has already met with the highest-ranking company, Theory Wellness, and has been in active discussions with its executives on a Host Community Agreement. She will be meeting with representatives from the other four companies throughout the month of January.

As set by the City’s zoning ordinance, which was amended and finalized in late 2020, the city may negotiate Host Community Agreements with up to three establishments, within specified commercial or industrial zones. While engaging with the applicants, the Mayor is reviewing many factors including, parking, traffic and how each company has outlined their community benefit section to determine which agreement could provide the most impactful resources to the community.

This selection process has been transparent, with the public receiving updates regarding timelines, next steps and participated in public meetings with each applicant. Medical marijuana dispensaries were approved by statewide vote in 2016, the City of Medford has been working to establish policies and regulations around these establishments as well as the newer regulations for retail businesses.

Timeline of selection and approval process:

November 2012: Medical marijuana approved in MA by voters
December 2015: City of Medford administration presented a draft medical marijuana ordinance to City Council
November 2016: Recreational Marijuana legalized (with regulations) in MA by voters, and an amendment sent to the Medford City Council. Medford voters supported Question 4 with 56% voting in support of legalizing marijuana, with regulations.
July 2020: Proposed Zoning Amendment submitted for review to the Medford Community Development Board
September 2020: Final Zoning Amendment adopted by City Council
November 17, 2020: Cannabis Advisory Committee ordinance adopted by City Council
February 11, 2021: Cannabis Advisory Committee holds first meeting
March 5, 2021: Cannabis Advisory Committee released application requirements and scoring criteria for the marijuana retail license.
April 30, 2021: Applications received by the Office of Planning, Development, and Sustainability from 10 applicants.
May 20, 2021: 10 applications presented to, subsequently approved by CAC following staff review.
July 2021: Community outreach meetings held by applicants for proposed retail establishments
October 13, 2021: Cannabis Advisory Committee voted on final rankings for all nine final applicants
October/November 2021: Final rankings and information presented to the Mayor
December: First Host agreement started the negotiation process
January/Feb. 2022: Mayor will be meeting with 4-8 more companies.

Per City ordinance, recreational marijuana establishments are only allowed in districts zoned as “Commercial II” or “Industrial.”
Per City ordinance, recreational marijuana establishments may not be located within 500 linear feet of any K-12 school.
It is the Mayor’s discretion to accept rankings and to negotiate Host Community Agreements. Per City ordinance, up to three licenses may be granted.

Per state regulations, the City has the option to establish a 3% excise tax on retail sales from each permitted establishment. In addition, the City may seek up to an additional 3% of gross retail sales as a Community Impact Fee through the Host Community Agreement. The Community Impact Fee, limited to a term of 5 years, is intended to mitigate any impacts from retail establishments. (For example, a community may consider using the Community Impact Fee revenue to offset permitting and inspection costs or to address roadway conditions as a result of increased traffic to the area.)

In addition to tax revenue, applicants may offer additional community benefits. Some current applicants, for example, have offered to build a community center, to make their exterior walls available for public art, or to donate additional funding to local nonprofit organizations.

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