The Boston City Council next week will likely consider an application for a medical-marijuana dispensary on VFW Parkway, just past the Dedham line.
Following a hearing on the issue today, City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), said he would urge his fellow counselors next Wednesday to formally not disapprove of the proposed dispensary, whose operators say could provide marijuana in various forms to up to 150 people a day - some of them patients at the nearby VA hospital. At-large Councilor Michelle Wu said she would join with O'Malley.
After voters approved medical-marijuana use in 2012, the council decided it will never formally "approve" a medical-marijuana dispensary, but it would issue letters of "non-disapproval" on certain dispensaries to the city Board of Appeals and the state Department of Public Health, which have final say on siting dispensaries, and which require letters of support or non disapproval from the council. Boston currently has one open dispensary, on Milk Street downtown; the Board of Appeals approved a Newbury Street dispensary in November.
O'Malley said he agreed to not disapprove Beacon Compassion Center's proposed dispensary at 1524 VFW Parkway, in the same strip mall as the Amazing.net sex-toy shop, after the company agreed to a provision in its possible zoning approval that it not shift into recreational marijuana sales if the state ever actually gets around to approving such sales.
In addition to agreeing not to get into recreational pot, Beacon CEO Rina Cametti told a small group of councilors and onlookers at today's hearing that the dispensary would not stock any edibles that a child might want to eat and would bar customers from consuming their purchases in the dispensary or parking lot. Only people with a doctor's prescription and a state marijuana ID card will be allowed in.
She added that the dispensary, not near any schools or parks, would employ a variety of security steps to prevent thefts or other problems, including extensive use of biometric and ID scanners, surveillance cameras, limited on-site storage of products and cash and a "mantrap" - basically a vestibule into which people seeking entry would be allowed in and then locked in as their identities are verified via scanner and camera.
Unlike the Amazing.net and other stores in the strip mall, Beacon would have only a small "nondescript" sign, Cametti said, adding all products would be packaged before they are delivered to the dispensary to minimize any possible odors.
In addition to O'Malley and Wu, local neighborhood associations, including the one representing the residents of the trailer park across the parkway, voiced non-opposition.
Cametti said that officials at the VA hospital told Beacon representatives that they understand the need for medical marijuana and would not voice opposition to the proposed dispensary, but that they could not publicly support it due to current conditions in Washington.
Cametti said her company has also won approval for dispensaries in Framingham and New Bedford, although neither have yet to open. Beacon is still negotiating with Attleboro to open a factory in which to grow the marijuana.