Home-delivery cannabis operation another step closer to state licensing

Apr 20, 2021

Following impassioned pleas to expedite the approval process from Aaron and Janelle Goines, who aspire to launch a cannabis business referred to as The Emerald Turtle, the Board of Selectmen voted to authorize the negotiation of a marijuana host community agreement.

With plans to operate out of a location at 10 Little Brook Rd., the Goines’ would cultivate marijuana, manufacture a variety of cannabis products — and deliver those products directly to customers.

At a community outreach meeting in February, Blake Mensing, legal counsel for Emerald Turtle Cove Management, explained that the Goines plan to apply for three licenses from the state Cannabis Control Commission: a wholesale delivery model license, a cultivation license and a product manufacturing license.

The delivery license was newly created by the commission and, for the next three years, made exclusively available to economic empowerment applicants and social equity program participants such as Aaron and Janelle Goines.

The social equity program was designed to benefit disproportionately harmed people, whom the state described as “those most impacted by the War on Drugs, marijuana prohibition, disproportionate arrests and incarceration.” Similarly, the economic empowerment priority application review was available to those whose business practices promote “economic empowerment in disproportionately impacted communities.” Wareham is one of those disproportionately impacted communities.

Before they can apply for Cannabis Control Commission licenses and make use of the exclusivity period established for applicants such as the Goines’, however, the town must negotiate the state-required host community agreement with The Emerald Turtle.

“This has been a long and arduous journey to go through,” Aaron Goines said. “My wife and I were instrumental in the actual design of the delivery operator license. [...] We are part of a movement in this community.”

He continued, noting that the three-year exclusivity period is a limited-time opportunity for he and Janelle to get their business off the ground. He said that Middleboro, Wareham’s “next door neighbor” has already cleared a path for three of these delivery operators to move forward, which will allow those other operators to launch before the Goines’ can establish their business.

Goines said:

“This is very critical, right now, that this has to be expedited as much as possible under your powers. We are trying to be partners with the town of Wareham. [...] We are ready to operate the second that we are able to get an HCA [...] with you guys, because we need to optimize every single day of the exclusivity period, which will benefit us, everybody that works for us — and will benefit the taxpayers of this town.

“So I beg of you as somebody who has paid out of pocket for this building, we need to get this delivery license up and running in Wareham ASAP because Middleboro right next door is going to come in. It’s going to be an all-out assault taking tax revenues from this town that should be for [Wareham].”

Further delays would be detrimental to the business’ prospects, Aaron said. 

“We’re now a year into this,” he said. “I am speaking to you as somebody that cannot continue to keep paying out of pocket. People go bankrupt before they get a chance to get in this business — and it starts at a town level. So, please, let us go to work for you, for the town, for the residents.”

His request, in a nutshell, was simple: “I beg of you guys. [...] Whatever you can do in your power, please speed this up.”

Janelle Goines also asked the board to approve the negotiation of all three aspects of the business cultivation, manufacturing and delivery. 

“Holding us off from negotiating it is just prolonging our process, because we have to come back to you with what is negotiated and it has to be approved, regardless, so why are we being stopped from negotiation?”

After a somewhat heated discussion, the board approved the negotiation of a host community agreement for all aspects of the business. 

Part of the board members’ initial hesitation to approve negotiations was the ongoing and as yet unresolved debate about whether or not the town should limit the number of marijuana delivery operators in Wareham — and, if limited, what the number should be limited to.

Selectman Patrick Tropeano said he didn’t like the “whole idea of delivery at all,” but he acknowledged some delivery of cannabis products was inevitable under state regulations. He said he thought it was important to put regulations in place limiting the number of delivery operators in place before negotiating a host community agreement with the Goines.

“I can see us negotiating the first couple parts, but not the delivery yet,” Tropeano said. 

Selectman Peter Teitelbaum noted that there is an article being considered for a vote at the Annual Spring Town Meeting currently scheduled for May 8 that would limit the number of delivery operators to three.

Attorney Mensing pointed out that the host community agreement would be the “springboard” to apply for the state licensing, and asked the board to approve the negotiation of the host community agreement. 

Selectman Alan Slavin expressed sympathy for the business owners and supported the move to authorize the negotiation of a host community agreement for the cultivation, manufacturing and delivery aspects of the Goines’ planned business.

“I apologize for how long this is taking, Aaron,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get this done.”

The board voted 4-0-1 to authorize the negotiation of the host community agreement for cultivation, manufacturing and delivery — contingent on the issue of Wareham cannabis delivery operator restrictions being resolved. Selectman Judith Whiteside was the lone “present” vote.

In the weeks to come, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan and Director of Planning Ken Buckland will negotiate the host community agreement and potential community impact fee. When reached, the agreement will come before the Board of Selectmen again for approval.