June Opening Eyed For Orleans’ Second Pot Shop

by Ryan Bray
With approval of a final license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, Ember Gardens could open on Route 6A as the town’s second recreational cannabis dispensary in late June.  RYAN BRAY PHOTO With approval of a final license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, Ember Gardens could open on Route 6A as the town’s second recreational cannabis dispensary in late June. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS – The town and a second recreational cannabis retailer have amended their host community agreement, and the business now hopes to open its doors on Route 6A next month.

Ember Gardens has constructed a new 2,277-square-foot dispensary at 41 Route 6A. Plans for the facility also include 16 parking spaces as well as areas for outdoor seating, new landscaping and fencing and signage both on and in front of the building along Route 6A. The business has received approvals from the zoning board of appeals, site plan review committee, traffic and bikeways advisory committee and the architectural review committee.

The select board initially entered into an agreement with Ember Gardens back in November 2021. But changes to the Cannabis Control Commission’s regulations regarding how municipalities craft agreements with cannabis businesses led to both sides meeting last week to amend the agreement.

The commission updated its regulations in March. Ember Gardens has its provisional license from the commission, but needs approval of a final license from the state panel in order to open for business.

The initial agreement, which included a stipulation that the business pay a 3 percent fee on its gross sales to the town each year, was denied by the commission.

“Particularly the financial provisions we had inserted in the 2021 agreement are no longer approvable by the Cannabis Control Commission,” Town Counsel Michael Ford said.

Dan Gillian, co-owner and chief executive officer for Ember Gardens, said in a followup call Monday that the commission revised its regulations to bring consistency to agreements being entered into by municipalities in Massachusetts with cannabis businesses with respect to the surcharges businesses pay to operate in their communities.

“A lot of municipalities were looking for more than the state allowed,” he said. “So this brings all municipalities in line with the state requirements.”

But the revised regulations were met with urgency by the business. At the May 15 meeting, Gillian told the select board that the revised agreement needs to be submitted to and approved by the commission by its next meeting in June if the business hopes to open this summer.

“If we don’t make this summer, you’re causing us a huge burden that will prevent us from opening and put our entire business at risk,” he said. “That’s why we’re here to kind of say there’s some urgency here. If you can adopt the model [host community agreement from the commission], we would love that and appreciate that. That’s what we know the state will pass today.”

Ford and Ember Gardens’ attorney, David Ullian, worked together to draft a revised agreement that also addressed questions related to the Orleans Police Department’s authority in determining the placement of security cameras in the facility, what would happen should the business go bankrupt and questions related to indemnification. Select board members said they wanted the agreement written in such a way that protects the town in the event that a third party attempts to bring suit against the business.

“This is something we have to do as a municipality to protect the interests of the town,” board member Kevin Galligan said.

The select board voted 4-1 May 15 to approve revised language in the agreement, with board member Mefford Runyon voting against over concerns about the town’s say in a new operator at the site if there is a change in ownership.

“If the bankruptcy court has the power to process that sale, what does the town have to say about it?” he asked.

“It still has to come back to you to bless the new owner,” Ford said. Board members also noted that the host community agreement is subject to renewal by the select board every five years.

Gillian said Monday that the agreement had been resubmitted to the state commission.

“We’re optimistic for June,” he said. “The town’s already done what it needs to do.”

Gillian said with a final license in hand, Ember Gardens hopes to open to the public at the end of June. The business would be the second dispensary to operate in Orleans, following on the heels of Seaside Cannabis Co., which opened in December on Lots Hollow Road. The businesses are the only ones licensed to operate recreational dispensaries in town.

“The voters have said ‘two retailers in town,’” Galligan said. “That’s all we have. That’s all I think we’ll ever have.”

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com