US (MA): Extra permit allows Whately cannabis company to extend growing season

With hopes of extending its growing season, Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers (DMCTC) has acquired a special permit for indoor cannabis cultivation to supplement its outdoor growing facility at 7 River Road.

The company, which was initially approved for outdoor cannabis cultivation in 2020, sought at last week’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to bring its site into conformance with Whately’s amended zoning bylaws. At 2021’s Annual Town Meeting, voters approved changing the zoning bylaws to define indoor cannabis cultivation as any cannabis plant growing inside a greenhouse or any other fully enclosed structure. Prior to this amendment, DMCTC referred to the state Cannabis Control Commission’s definition of outdoor growing, which prohibits growing cannabis plants with artificial light, with an exception for propagating plants in a greenhouse nursery, according to the special permit application.

Chris Chamberland, a Berkshire Design Group engineer representing DMCTC, said there are no exterior changes to the site plan beyond adding some lights to the greenhouse to continue growing adult plants as days get shorter. Existing lights are allowed for propagating plants in the nursery only.

The greenhouses, Chamberland explained, will use blackout curtains to avoid disturbing neighbors at night. Residents at a recent Planning Board meeting raised complaints about lights being on late at night in the nursery, and it was soon discovered that staff forgot to close the curtains, which were on a manual control switch. According to the special permit application, DMCTC is in the process of installing a timer on the curtains to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

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