PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Cannabis cultivator and retailer True East Leaf says it is "very close" to submitting its state application to open a facility at the former Richmond Bakery on Seymour Street.
In a recent outreach meeting, the "budding" dispensary outlined its action plans for security, diversion to minors, and how it will positively impact the community.
The venture owned by Kayley Stasiewski and Tommy Pytko was approved for a special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals in February of 2020. It had received approval through the Community Development Board the previous year but the ZBA delayed the vote through a series of meetings with concerns over possible odor and parking.
Attorney Blake Mensing represented True East Lead at the meeting. In regard to security, he said cannabis facilities have to be "buttoned up tighter than a bank or even a pharmacy."
Every lock on site is required to be commercial grade and every square inch of the facility covered by surveillance cameras with the bathrooms as an exception. Cameras are required to have high-resolution imging, as each frame of the video must be freezable and legible.
The cameras will also contain an irremovable date, time, and location stamp so they can be shared with the police in the case of a break-in or any crime-related activities. Footage has to be maintained for a minimum of 90 days.
"Only certain members of True East Leaf, you know, corporate hierarchy, may enter a given space," Mensing explained. "So for instance, the finished product vault would be for certain a limited access area where only upper management or whoever has explicitly designated authority may enter into that space. Those spaces are typically controlled with either a keypad a key fob, or in some cases, biometrics and what you want to be able to do is sort of match up the camera log with the door entry log of those limited access areas, again, anywhere there's a finished product or cannabis growing is likely going to be limited in some way."
He noted that the state Cannabis Control Commission creates these specifications and will review the security plan as well as Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn.
"And typically, because the requirements are so astronomically above and beyond what a bank or a pharmacy requires, most chiefs of police say, 'Well, if you're satisfying a state standard, you've probably satisfying ours as well,'" Mensing said.
As an adult-use facility, cannabis cultivation facilities and retail dispensaries require an age of 21 to enter. In addition to the gatekeeping function, customers' IDs are verified at the door and at checkout.
There is also a state-required "seed to sale" tracking software program that assigns a unique alphanumeric code to every particular plant that assists with the diversion of minors from cannabis sales.
"What I advise clients to do is, in your wholesale relationships or contracts with your purchasers on the on the growth side, you have a look back provision, so if your products with your unique RFID code in the seed to sale tracking platform ends up in the hands of minors, it's not just 'oh, we put the blinders on, it's not our problem,' you would have a provision to get out of that wholesale supplier agreement," Mensing explained. "Because the person who was purchasing it isn't keeping track of where their cannabis ends up and that's completely unacceptable."
With curbside purchasing options becoming popular, everyone in the customer's vehicle has to be 21 or older as well.
The state reportedly ran the numbers for residents' baseline cannabis consumption as compared to conviction rates and sentencing harshness related to it and identified that white people and people of color use cannabis at "virtually identical" rates, yet people of color — particularly Black and brown individuals — face three times greater sentencing and frequency of arrest.
This influenced a statewide positive impact plan that requires a cannabis licensee to provide volunteer hours, donations, or a combination of both to entities that help support people of disproportionately harmed communities.
True Leaf East has been advised to donate to two nonprofits that are willing to take cannabis dollars, one being the New England Veterans Alliance.
"I believe Pittsfield is itself an area of disproportionate impact and there's obviously ready-made population in the city to potentially benefit from this," Mensing said. "On the local level, you can have a positive impact in your community by being good corporate citizens, so I know Kayley and Tom have been sort of exploring where their volunteer hours or dollars might do a little bit of good in Pittsfield itself, that's something that's sort of in exploration mode, trying to figure out where the most impact could come."
He also discussed how the facility will take actions to avoid constituting a nuisance to the surrounding area including using a carbon charcoal filter through an HVAC system to prevent smell leakage and working with the city to create the facility's traffic and parking plan.
"Things have definitely progressed," Pytko said. "We'll be submitting our state application soon and anticipating it'll take a few months after that to get an approval, and we're going to go from there."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Pittsfield to Unveil Plaque for Buddy Pellerin Ballfield
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A commemorative plaque will officially designate the Clapp Park ballfield for former coach George "Buddy" Pellerin.
The name change was approved about seven years ago after Pellerin passed away at the age of 77. The plaque's set be unveiled at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14.
"Chairman [Cliff] Nilan has been involved with this effort to site a permanent plaque at the Buddy Pellerin Field which is of course the main baseball field and Clapp Park where Buddy Pellerin coached and played for many, many years," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath explained to the Parks Commission on Monday.
"And this is a permanent recognition of his contribution to the city."
The plaque, currently covered up, is just behind home plate on the backstop behind the walking track. It was pointed out that the public is welcome to join the unveiling to remember a "literal Pittsfield giant."
Pellerin was head coach of the Pittsfield High baseball team for 19 years, leading the team to the state title in 1966 and taking the team to the 1974 title game. He also served as athletic director and head softball coach during his time at PHS.
He handed over the reins of the baseball team in 1982 but remained active in the sport. He went on to coach softball at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the former St. Joseph's High as well as the city's Babe Ruth League all-star team. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988.
The park has seen major improvements after the city partnered with the Rotary Club and the Buddy Pellerin Field Committee on a state grant.
During the meeting, it was also reported that the Berkshire County Historical Society has been working with the city to plant a commemorative elm tree in Park Square. It will replace the iconic one that was planted in the 1990s to emulate an elm that was admired by Pittsfield residents in the city's early days.
There will be a dedication ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 p.m. The event will fall on Nation Plant a Tree Day.
"This year we have been working with [McGrath] to plan a special planting of an elm to commemorate the elm that was obviously very famous here in Pittsfield and was chopped down but was first saved by Lucretia Williams," Executive Director Lesley Herzberg explained.
About halfway through polling, mayoral candidates Peter Marchetti, Karen Kalinowsky and John Krol were feeling hopeful while holding signs in front of Providence Court, the polling location for Ward 3A.
click for more