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The Selectmen are negotiating a Host Community Agreement with Mass Yield Cultivation.

Cheshire Cultivates Host Agreement with Marijuana Facility

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — A new marijuana-growing and selling facility is looking to set up shop. Representatives of Mass Yield Cultivation, which already has a facility in Pittsfield, met with the Select Board on Tuesday to hammer out mostly minor quibbles with the town's Host Community Agreement.
 
The biggest concerns that Mass Yield and the Selectmen had with the agreement were the revenue numbers and the impact fee. The impact fee is the tax that the town charges marijuana facilities when they want to open up. The town usually takes a certain percentage of the gross sales of the company and puts it toward community-based projects. This is a requirement of the Cannabis Control Commission, which is the regulatory body that oversees marijuana operations in Massachusetts.
 
The latest iteration of the host agreement — the one that was discussed on Tuesday — contained a provision establishing a 3 percent impact fee. Mass Yield's accountant expressed concern about this number, saying that 3 percent of sales could cost the company too much money in its early years.
 
She pointed out that the first year, the company would likely only be able to sell biomass, and not the actual flowering part of the cannabis plant that produces recreational-use marijuana. The biomass, she said, can be used to produce some products containing THC, the chemical in the cannabis plant that results in a high.
 
She said the company will make more revenue starting in the second year. Mass Yield would start to produce marijuana in sizeable quantities and sell the products in its second year. The accountant estimated that Mass Yield could make around $750,000 in a year, but also said this number could rise.
 
The accountant and the lawyer for Mass Yield, who attended the meeting via Zoom, discussed the 3 percent impact fee in light of the CCC's mandatory five-year sunset requirement, saying taking 3 percent of sales of the company could seriously dampen the facility's profits and ability to reinvest for the first year.
 
Selectman Jason Levesque offered a potential solution to this, asking if the town could delay implementation of the payments in order to grow the company. He suggested that the company "begin payments once it's well-established."
 
The lawyer for Mass Yield said she would have to look into that because she wasn't sure whether the CCC allowed for the impact fee to be collected during any five-year period, as opposed to the first five years, which is the traditional timeframe.
 
Selectman Ray Killeen expressed discomfort with allowing Mass Yield into the town at all, but noted that he was the only one on the board opposed. "It bothers me to see individuals enticed to spend their money on" marijuana, Killeen said, citing the potential impact heavy marijuana use could have on families and other sources of community.
 
Killeen was opposed to the town looking at Mass Yield as another potential revenue stream and, in his view, ignoring some of the more negative consequences that could come from it.
 
The Selectmen did not take a vote on the provision at this meeting. It will continue deliberations at some point in the future.

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Cheshire Selectmen Raise Concerns Over Data Security With School District

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is leery of a program being used by the Hoosac Valley Regional School District to assess students and the school community.
 
The board asked school officials to attend Tuesday's meeting specifically to discuss Panorama Education, a platform the district uses that provides reports that give educators individualized data they can use to inform their support for students' academic, social, and emotional learning.
 
"I think there are some issues that we need to work through as a community, and I think we can work together on navigating security issues that I can see being a part of the whole system and others related to software," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said Tuesday during the joint meeting. 
 
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