Major marijuana operation seeks to open in Navionics' former headquarters in Wareham

May 30, 2018

Goodbye marine charts, hello marijuana.

A recreational marijuana grower, processor and retail operation aims to open in a building recently vacated by Navionics, an electronic marine charts company.

The company, Trade Roots/LDE, is the first wave of a “green rush” in Wareham, which includes several businesses seeking the remaining two of three recreational marijuana licenses.

In total, 10 companies have filed applications to either grow, process or sell recreational marijuana in town before sales likely become legal this summer.

Sales of medical marijuana have been allowed in Massachusetts since 2012. In November 2016, a state ballot question passed that paved the way for recreational sales. The state’s Cannabis Control Commission is drafting a framework for the oversight of retail marijuana shops. Those shops are due to open in July, and it is currently legal to possess and grow marijuana for personal use. The town’s moratorium on retail marijuana shops expires June 30.

One long-planned medical marijuana facility has already opened at 112 Main St. Operated by Pharmacannis Massachusetts, the dispensary plans to sell recreational marijuana once it’s legal. Selectmen have already executed a “host agreement” with the dispensary, named Verilife, which grants it a license to sell pending state approval.

On Tuesday, Selectmen approved another host agreement with the Rochester-based Trade Roots/LDE. The vote would allow the business to cultivate, sell and process recreational marijuana at 6 Thatcher Lane, inside the Town of Wareham Industrial Park in West Wareham.

The building housed Navionics until last month, according to Selectman Chair Alan Slavin. The multinational company is based in Italy and just moved its U.S. headquarters from Wareham to New Bedford.

“We couldn’t offer them anything they wanted to stay,” said Slavin. “But this seems to have worked out.”

Ahead of the recreational sales deadline, Wareham held a Special Town Meeting in March. New regulations were adopted that limits the number of recreational sales licenses to three, prohibits stores from opening within 1,500 feet of one another and requires they only open in certain areas.

Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland said the town also set policy guiding how to award the two remaining licenses.

License seekers must submit a comprehensive application, including business plan, letter of interest and other criteria.

Buckland said Trade Roots/LDE’s plans include employing 41 people, bringing in $5.3 million in revenue the first year it opens and $8 million in the second year. The business is set to be located in the 16,000-square-foot space at Thatcher Lane.

“Their business plan is well presented and complete,” said Buckland.

As part of the host agreement, the town would get 3 percent of the gross sales of the facility annually. Buckland said officials do not yet have estimate on how much money the town would receive.

Buckland noted Trade Roots/LDE still must gain approval from the state before opening.

“Who knows what will happen there,” he said.

In addition to Trade Roots/LDE, Selectmen approved host agreements for two other businesses – Evergreen Farms and T. Bear, Inc. Evergreen Farms plans to grow marijuana in a facility on Patterson’s Brook Road while T. Bear, Inc. looks to process recreational marijuana at 3103 Cranberry Highway. Because neither business is looking to sell recreational marijuana, they are not subject to the three license limit.

Selectman Peter Teitelbaum said the three licenses might be increased if demand becomes high enough.

“There’s always an opportunity to revisit the bylaw and increase it,” he said. “That’s something that could happen down the road.”

Selectmen said they wanted time for other companies to submit applications before weighing in on the final license. In addition to Trade Roots/LDE, five businesses have applied for recreational sales licenses.