Hollar: Montpelier City Council should have been informed of pot dispensary

The Times Argus reported on Friday that Patients First Inc., one of two state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries, has scrapped its plans to open in Waterbury and instead received a permit to operate in Montpelier.

The dispensary has an administratively approved change of use permit for a building located at 188 River St., though it does not yet have a lease in place. According to the building’s owner, Jim Barrett, Patients First has plans to install a rigorous security apparatus with a price tag of $8,000 to $10,000 at the River Street site. Patients First had formerly planned to operate at 2802 Waterbury Stowe Road in what used to be a floral store.

State law allows for four medical marijuana dispensaries though only two have been approved; the other, Champlain Valley Dispensary, will operate out of Burlington. Rutland and Stowe have passed zoning bylaws that prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries.

John Hollar, the mayor of Montpelier, said the City Council should have been informed about the dispensary but was not, due to an internal staff oversight. “Frankly the committee should have been informed before the permit was issued.” Hollar said the City Council would discuss the dispensary on Nov. 14 but, he added, “I don’t expect there will be any interest in prohibiting dispensaries.”

Little is known about Patients First Inc. due to strict confidentiality rules imposed by the Department of Public Safety; several news outlets, including the Times Argus and the Waterbury Record filed public records requests, but met with limited success. The Times Argus identified Stacy Grabowski as Patients First’s manager. On Oct. 19, the Public Records Legislative Study Committee examined that the medical marijuana statute, which served as the basis for the rules, and determined that it required clarification, but this won’t take place until the next legislative session.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Patients First had received a conditional use permit.

Alicia Freese

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  • Clancy DeSmet

    It wasn’t a conditional use permit. It was a permitted use that was administratively approved. The Times Argus got it wrong twice, and so far you have gotten it wrong too. Check the facts please.

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