Marijuana Nonprofit Aims To Build Green Dispensary In Pittsfield, MA

MASSACHUSETTS: The limited use of medical marijuana approved by Massachusetts voters nearly one year ago will soon be a clinical reality, and one new firm with local roots is looking to become the face of this new industry in the Berkshires.

Representatives of the new startup, Manna Wellness Inc., say pending state and local approvals, they intend to construct a new high-tech, environmentally friendly marijuana dispensary facility about two miles from downtown Pittsfield.
“No other dispensary in America right now is a LEED-certified green building,” said Nial DeMena, director of operations for the nonprofit, which is currently a Phase II candidate to become a registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) under the state Department of Health’s new regulatory system.
Their proposed new building would be a low-impact, energy efficient center that will potentially take advantage of such technologies as solar, geothermal and  non-toxic sodium aqueaous batteries.
“No one in the history of this industry has done that,” said DeMena, at a public presentation at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge on Wednesday. “We are trying to leave a small carbon footprint, we’re trying to be environmentally friendly, and we’re trying to accommodate the community.”
Director of Resources Julia Germaine, daughter of Manna’s Executive Director and President Dr. Eric Germaine, a retired veterinarian, said the operation expects to create about 15 “competitive wage” jobs within its first few years, including patient care, security and cultivation staff.
“These jobs will be a marriage of traditional agricultural and greenhouse techniques and also emerging biotechnology techniques when it comes to propagation,” said Germaine.
The plant Cannabis sativa and all its active constituents remain Schedule I drugs under federal law, however, and even state-approved medicinal marijuana will not be covered by insurance carriers. While certified patients will have to pay the cost out of pocket, Manta says a sliding scale will exist for demonstrated hardship with the appropriate paperwork, and the dispensary will offer both high-end “boutique” plant products as well as “bulk” strains that may lack some of the more desirable “connoisseur” aspects.
“There is a culture for that, and we want to cater to patients that want that sort of medicine,” said DeMena, “but we also want to serve people that want to be able to afford medicine and get it.”

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