Mayor Lungo-Koehn Signs First Host Community Agreement with Marijuana Dispensary

Theory Wellness, Inc. approved to set up marijuana dispensary at 162 Mystic Ave.

As part of community benefits, Theory Wellness will fully fund and support a community arts center.

MEDFORD – The City of Medford officially signed a Host Community Agreement with its first recreational marijuana dispensary. Last week, Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn signed a formal agreement with Theory Wellness, Inc. for a dispensary to be located at 162 Mystic Ave. Theory Wellness was the top-ranked applicant based on scoring criteria put in place by the City’s Cannabis Advisory Committee. Nine applicants were considered, interviewed by the CAC, and ranked, with final rankings submitted to the Mayor in Fall 2021. The Host Community Agreement covers a five-year period.

Theory Wellness will need to obtain Special Permit approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals before they can begin operation. They are also subject to approval from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

For the dispensary, Theory Wellness made it a priority to hire Medford residents whenever possible and has agreed to Mayor Lungo-Koehn’s requirement that at least 50 percent of its employees will be women, at least 35 percent of employees will be of diverse backgrounds, and at least 5 percent of employees will be military veterans. Priority will also be given to local vendors whenever possible for resources and materials.

As part of the Host Community Agreement Theory Wellness will also develop an approximately 10,000 square foot community arts center to allow local artists to create and display art and to host events. The center will be developed and maintained at no cost to taxpayers or to local artists.

Other community benefits agreed to by Theory Wellness as part of the Host Community Agreement include:

Providing $250,000 of interest-free financing and technical guidance to a Medford resident of color to open a business in Medford
Providing at least $100,000 of financial support and technical guidance to sponsor environmentally sustainable businesses and business practices in Medford
Making annual contributions of $50,000 to Medford-based non-profits or city-run organizations
Providing $50,000 to the City of Medford to support funding of a Health Impacts Assessment within the first year
Making contributions of $35,000 to public and private schools in Medford for art supplies
Purchasing and donating one police cruiser annually
Adding an EV charging station and a Blue Bike station on site

“After careful review and consideration, and thanks in large part to the huge amount of work done by the Cannabis Advisory Committee, I am proud to formalize our first Host Community Agreement with Theory Wellness. In addition to their strong and well thought out proposal, Theory Wellness has made commitments for community benefits in many key areas, from social justice to community arts to environmental sustainability and more, and I am thankful for these opportunities for the City of Medford,” said Mayor Lungo-Koehn.

CEO of Theory Wellness, Brandon Pollock, echoed similar sentiments sharing, “We’re thrilled by the prospect of bringing our world-class operations to the City of Medford. Since the beginning of this process, it has been clear that our objectives and mission aligned with the core values of this community. We are particularly proud to be able to facilitate the creation of the community arts center, which will turn an otherwise vacant area of our building into a vibrant, creative space. We appreciate all of the hard work that the City has put into this process, and are excited and eager to take the next steps in moving forward.”

Medford voters approved recreational marijuana dispensaries (with regulations) in a citywide election in November 2016. The Medford City Council began working on an ordinance in 2016 and approved zoning amendments to support the siting of these dispensaries, in September 2020, with a vote to adopt a Cannabis Advisory Committee in November 2020. A Committee was convened and began its process in February 2021 with final recommendations submitted in Fall 2021.

Under City Ordinance, the Mayor may negotiate up to three Host Community Agreements for marijuana dispensaries.

MARIJUANA DISPENSARY / CANNABIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE FACTS:

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

HOST COMMUNITY AGREEMENTS

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.

TAX REVENUE

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.)

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