Jan. 12--A computer tower stands in the small closet in the back of BASK in Fairhaven. It acts as the digital green thumb of the medicinal marijuana cultivation center and dispensary. It can sense when the plants need water. When to turn off lights. When to turn on fans. It even can smell the air.
Tim Keogh, the president of BASK's board, acknowledged technology this advanced likely isn't needed for a cultivator as small as the one located at 2 Pequod Road. But BASK has larger plans under Keogh, also the CEO and President of AmeriCann, an Agricultural Technology company developing a new generation of sustainable, state-of-the-art medical cannabis cultivation and processing properties.
The two companies -- AmeriCann and BASK -- received approval earlier this week of a host community agreement from Freetown for cultivation, processing and transportation for recreational marijuana at its 30,000 square foot facility expected to be complete in June.
"I think they just believe in the project I think they see the benefits of having the jobs and the economic impact in that industrial park," Keogh said.
The same computer system will ensure the best possible grow in the Freetown Industrial Park as well.
BASK's 30,000 square foot building only represents 3 percent of the total expansion. When fully complete, the plan calls for a 1 million square foot facility on the 52-acre plot.
"This is the initial build out. We're hoping as time goes on that they are prosperous and they expand the facility up to their proposal, which is a million square feet," Freetown Town Administrator David DeManche said.
The relationship between the two dates back a few years. AmeriCann received a host agreement for medicinal marijuana in 2016. Monday's approval included recreational.
The agreement with Freetown came after AmeriCann examined potential locations across the state.
"We did some outreach, but it was our initial conversations with Freetown that helped solidify our plans," Keogh said.
Keogh said the foundation of the relationship was built with education and transparency. AmeriCann brought in their contractor, architect and horticulture team to meet with the town administrator, the board of selectmen, the police chief and others.
"We were ahead of a lot of communities in that we didn't stop that type of operation," DeManche said. "... Freetown was one of the leaders in allowing that kind of business in the community -- or any kind of business. We're business friendly."
Approval of host agreements hasn't been as smooth in other SouthCoast areas. Look no further than New Bedford where last month at a Committee on Licensing and Zoning Cannabis meeting, hopeful business owners described the difficulty in identifying affordable locations.
"The Massachusetts process is challenging primarily because of the local siting and control fees," Keogh said. "But the moratorium and bans are not unique to Massachusetts."
Bans continue to exist in Colorado. However, 673 medical cultivators are in business with 735 recreational cultivator as of Jan. 2 according to Colorado'sDepartment of Revenue. More than 1,000 medicinal and recreational store are operational.
"We're going to see this play out over the next four to six months," Keogh said. "I don't think it's a death certificate to a market if they're not open or participating in the first six to 12 months of the marketplace."
Keogh's excited for June, though, when AmeriCann and BASK will dive into recreation cultivation, processing and transportation.
Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT
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