MASHPEE — The Board of Selectmen rejected a host community agreement application from a marijuana manufacturer Monday after discussion between the board and the applicant got heated.
Tree Beard LLC, a New Bedford-based recreational craft cannabis company, requested approval to open a marijuana manufacturing, delivery and transportation establishment at 800 Falmouth Road. It sought licenses from the board Monday for manufacturing, delivering and transporting its products.
Nicholas Gomes, Tree Beard’s chief legal counsel, told selectmen that the company sought to manufacture products like oils, topicals, baked goods, jellies, chocolates and gummies at the Mashpee location for transport throughout the state.
The general public would not come to the location. Instead, delivery vehicles would be on the road during the day and would deliver to consumers. The facility would also create minor noise but would not be a nuisance, according to the company’s PowerPoint presentation.
Gomes said the goal is to get proper licenses and permits so the site could be fully operational in one year.
“This is step one on a long journey together,” he said.
Gomes said if the company received approval, their next step would be to hold a virtual informational meeting with the site’s abutters to discuss the project and answer questions.
Delivery licenses became available from the Cannabis Control Commission in May, and Tree Beard is the first applicant for such a license in the town of Mashpee, Town Planner Evan Lehrer wrote to the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Rodney Collins.
In a letter include as part of the board’s agenda packet for the Monday’s meeting, Lehrer said that after members of the building, fire, police, planning and health departments met with the Tree Beard representatives, they found no issues with the proposed operation.
Selectman Andrew Gottlieb said that while the company preached strong commitments to the community, he did not see a commitment beyond the required 3% of sales that companies are state-mandated to give the towns they operate in.
“We’re fully committed,” Chief Marketing Officer Hans Dougherty said. “We put in a CBD store back in February that has barely been hanging on because we’re working our butts off for no money because we understand the community and the people’s needs.”
Selectmen also expressed concern about products such as gummies and lollipops, which they said attract children.
“We have been totally against the gummy bears, even in our medical marijuana,” Selectman Carol Sherman said. “You’re bringing in lollipops, gummies, jellies, chocolates and baked goods. This is stuff that we’ve been totally against from day one.”
Gomes said the gummies itself have logos of the cannabis weed with the THC lettering so “anyone who sees it knows what it is.” All of the packaging will also be childproof, he said.
“What we’re asking for is the opportunity to show you that we can do it in a safe manner. … We’re going to help educate the public, educate the children so they know about marijuana objectively with substance abuse prevention,” Gomes said.
The draft host community agreement said the company shall support or work with a nonprofit organization approved by the Board of Selectmen to promote drug abuse prevention and treatment and education programs.
Doherty interrupted some board members, saying they were getting hung up on the idea of edibles. He asked if there was any evidence of the town having past issues with the product.
Selectman Thomas O’Hara, the board’s vice chairman, referred to an incident in which a parent had taken too many edibles.
“I would agree that, looking at the merchandise that is going to be produced, it does seem like it’s geared towards children,” Selectman David Weeden said. “It’s hard to get around that with the presentation before us.”
Doherty interrupted Weeden, but was cut off by another company employee who shouted obscenities at Doherty. Gottlieb made the motion to reject the application, and the board unanimously voted to do so before cutting off the Zoom call.
Town Manager Rodney Collins said after the meeting the following day that the entire exchange appeared to be disrespectful to the board.
“When your fate rests with the board that is reviewing your application, then it would make sense to be a little more polite and a little more respectful,” Collins said, referring to Doherty’s interruptions.
Gomes said in a phone call the next day that the virtual meeting format created challenges with normal discourse. He said the outcome of Monday’s hearing would have been “substantially different” if the applicant could have met with the board in person.
“What I wanted to get out to the [Board of Selectmen] and the general public is society is moving forward slowly, and you can either be proactive and choose to deal with these issues, to cover these fears that people have about cannabis,” Gomes said. “I was honestly unable to get to their specific concerns … before the issues erupted as they did.”
“It’s unfortunate that we encountered this problem and I don’t know what the future holds,” he said.
Follow Jessica Hill on Twitter: @jess_hillyeah.