LAKEVILLE — Quietly, and without any fanfare, the town’s first cannabis product kitchen was recently cleared to start cooking up marijuana edibles by the Board of Health. Except for the products to be created, it was another routine approval of a commercial kitchen operation for the board.
Bountiful Farms Inc. of Franklin received the license to operate the kitchen at 200 Kenneth Welch Drive in the town’s primary industrial park at the Feb. 3 meeting of the Board of Health after Health Agent Ed Cullen reported finding “everything’s in order” during his pre-opening inspection.
There is already a state licensed cannabis cultivation operation in the building, with the some of the marijuana plants already growing there destined to become the raw material for candies, cookies, and other products containing cannabis that will be manufactured there.
“We had to inspect the kitchen to make sure it’s compliant with all our regulations and the state regulations” set by the Cannabis Control Commission, Cullen said. All was in order, he reported.
Board of Health Chairman Derek Maxim and other board members had just a few questions for Bountiful Farms representative Jared Norris before their unanimous vote to approve the site for “manufacturing” edibles, but not selling them.
The products made are “not to be consumed on the property, correct?” asked member Robert Poillucci. Norris confirmed, “That is absolutely not allowed under Cannabis Control Commission regulations.”
“And there’s no trying of the products in the store, right?” Maxim asked in a follow-up. “Nobody comes there to buy anything?”
No, Norris said. All products manufactured at the Lakeville site will be sold in the company’s Natick medical marijuana treatment center, he indicated.
There will be no public access to the Lakeville cannabis product kitchen at any time, Norris added.
Board member Chris Spratt was satisfied with the positive inspection report. Without further discussion, the commercial kitchen approval passed on a 3-0 vote.
According to its 2018 filings with the state commission, the company projected about $6.5 million in revenues from its cultivation, processing and manufacturing operations, and the Natick medical marijuana dispensary in year one. The anticipated net profit was estimated at $1.4 million in the first year.
The rest of the Feb. 3 meeting was taken up with continued discussions of a longstanding application for a septic system permit for a lot located at 4 Old Powderhouse Road. The grandfathered house lot is undersized by today’s zoning standards, and owner Murray Wachtenheim is seeking variances from setback requirements to locate the septic system in the lot’s limited upland area.
The board has been hesitant to reduce a mandated 100 foot setback from wetlands to 65 feet in order to site the system. Owner’s engineer Jamie Bissonnette of Zenith Consulting Engineering argued that the reduced distance would not increase the environmental impact on the wetlands and groundwater, while the health agent maintained the buffer zone was important and needs to be protected.
Bissonnette tried to obtain a positive opinion on the setback issue from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but the long-delayed response was somewhat vague and did not clearly endorse the lesser setback proposal.
He contended the DEP would not have advised the board how to issue a legal variance from the setback regulations if that action was not allowed.
The engineer said the property owner was willing to install an I/A (innovative/alternative) septic system to reduce any possible impact on the wetlands. The I/A technology involves additional filtration units designed to eliminate most or all of the nitrogen content of the wastewater before it leaches out of the system into the underlying groundwater.
A consulting expert explained that most of the contaminants are filtered out during the vertical phase of dispersal; concentrations of nitrogen and other contaminants are much less during the wastewater’s horizontal migration, he said.
After much debate, the matter was postponed until the Feb. 17 meeting so a more detailed opinion on the setback issue could be obtained from the state agency.