High Opinion: This Agreement With Neighbors Of A Cannabis Grow Is Noteworthy

“No money was exchanged between the parties as part of the resolution”

The incredible number of cannabis companies coming online across the commonwealth doesn’t mean there aren’t still struggles with neighbors for a lot of green business hopefuls. Even in municipalities that welcome cultivations and dispensaries, licensees have had to sue and countersue in order to get situated.

Until recently, one theater ripe with such drama was Becket in Berkshire County, population roughly 2,000. After the owners of TetraHydra AgTek won a special permit to build a 31,000 square-foot greenhouse less than a mile from the Mass Pike there in March 2022, multiple sour neighbors appealed the decision in the small town’s land court. As the Berkshire Eagle reported, they argued, among other things, that the cultivation “didn’t fit the neighborhood.” Which was total nonsense, naturally.

Last week, however, the Eagle reported that the “company is moving forward with plans to grow marijuana indoors on Quarry Road after a legal appeal from neighbors objecting to the farm was settled.” Apparently there was a “voluntary agreement of the neighbors, the company and the Planning Board.” More from the paper of record:

No money was exchanged between the parties as part of the resolution, according to a brief agreement filed in Land Court. There was also a private agreement signed, but what exactly the business and the neighbors appealing agreed to, neither side will say.

Both parties’ lawyers declined to provide any details on what the private agreement contained. The neighbors decided they didn’t want to share the details, their attorney, Mitchell Greenwald, told The Eagle.

My initial reaction was, How dare those neighbors? Why appease prohibitionists, NIMBYs, or opportunists when we know that cannabis is safe? But then I focused on the revelation that no money was exchanged, and shifted my position slightly. I’m no fan of people pushing back against the inevitable, but they were certainly within their rights, and all parties appear to be satisfied.

In the Eagle piece, the lawyer for the neighbors did say that his clients got “some wins.” “Dismissal doesn’t mean we walk away with nothing,” he told the reporter. Still, it doesn’t seem like a nefarious money grab. Just NIMBY dicks doing their thing.

We know there are other similar lawsuits pending across Mass. To people on all sides of those contests, I humbly note, ignorant of their specific situations: perhaps there are some answers—or at least ideas—in what transpired out in Becket for those looking to break a stalemate and move forward.