Berkshire Mountain Distillers owner has grand designs for pot-growing, retail sale site in Sheffield
By Kristin Palpini, The Berkshire Eagle
SHEFFIELD — The owner of Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Chris Weld, unveiled his plan Tuesday night for a large recreational marijuana-growing and retail sale facility on the old Pine Tree Inn lot along Route 7.
Weld and the Select Board have signed a host agreement — a necessary step in the Massachusetts marijuana license application process. Assuming that everything goes smoothly with town and state permitting, construction could begin as soon as this summer, “though, that might be ambitious,” he said.
As a benefit to Sheffield, the town would receive 3 percent of the company’s retail sales for community outreach and education — a measure negotiated into the host agreement. The town also would have an opportunity to collect a 3 percent tax on marijuana sales.
The proposed business — Berkshire Welco, a limited liability company with Weld and tech consultant Michael Cohen — is among the first wave of recreational marijuana enterprises seeking to open shop in Massachusetts. The state legalized recreational marijuana through a voter referendum in 2016; medical marijuana was legalized in 2012. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission will begin accepting recreational marijuana business applications Sunday.
Weld argued that since Massachusetts has legalized marijuana, Sheffield might as well profit off the burgeoning industry. Any marijuana business that draws people to town should be operated by a local who can more easily respond to Sheffield’s concerns than a national or out-of-state marijuana retailer, he said.
“It’s here, it’s legalized, it’s state-mandated licensing,” Weld said in front of an audience of about 30 at the Sheffield Town Hall on Tuesday night for Berkshire Welco’s informational presentation. “We want this done responsibly and by someone with local roots.”
Some residents in the audience said they were annoyed that Berkshire Welco’s plans already seem like a “done deal” and expressed concern