NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 1, 2013

Landlord says no to medical marijuana business

Medical Evolution co-owners surprised by decision

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
CORRESPONDENT

---- — NEWBURY — The owner of commercial office space on Kent’s Way said he has no plans to lease his property for use as a state-registered medicinal marijuana dispensary.

Landlord Brendan Kelly said he was “quite surprised” when a colleague sent him a copy of a recent article published in The Daily News that reported that at a selectmen’s meeting last Tuesday, the nonprofit corporation, Medical Evolution, had mentioned the site as a possible location for a marijuana dispensary.

Kelly said he and his other commercial real estate partners wished the nonprofit “success in their venture” but added, “We do not believe that 12 Kent Way is the appropriate location for their business.”

This was news to Brandon Terricone and Elizabeth Holland, co-owners of Medical Evolution. They felt they had received good feedback from Kelly on a plan to house the dispensary on his property during a tour of the building several weeks ago, they told selectmen on Tuesday.

The two met with town leaders last week as part of a proactive effort to shore up support for their mission before applying for one of the 35 state-issued registered marijuana dispensary licenses that will soon be made available now that Massachusetts voters agreed last November to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.

When reached yesterday, Terricone said both he and the local real estate broker who went through the space with him were “kind of blindsided” to hear of Kelly’s comments — calling it “a complete 180” from the impression they had both received from landlord during their initial site visit.

“I am very surprised to hear Brendan back away from the plans we discussed in detail during our meeting of over an hour,” he said. Because of the potential sensitivity to the type of business he is proposing, Terricone said that from the beginning of the licensing process he has always made sure the landlord of any space he was considering leasing understood what it would be used for prior to scheduling an appointment to tour it. “Otherwise it’s a waste of everyone’s time,” he explained.

He said he and Kelly had discussed the details of his proposal “down to the exact use of the space, the build out, the patient base and what it was going to take for us to get a license.”

“He even went so far as to tell me he saw no issue with it, and that he has tenants do all kinds of things that he may or may not understand or agree with,” Terricone said.

At that time he felt he made it clear to the landlord that he would be presenting the location as a possible option to town leaders because “we wanted local support and harmony with the local government,” said Terricone. Among the strict regulations imposed by the state on the RMD licensing process, applicants must list a definitive location for the dispensary on their application.

Kelly acknowledged he toured the building with Terricone and his broker — “just like we would do with any potential tenant for our property,” he said when reached over the weekend. He said he was courteous to the prospective tenants but never indicated one way or another his position on a possible lease agreement with them.

Then following the tour he met with his other business partners to discuss the proposed use. They collectively determined a medical marijuana facility was not suitable for their building. They had no further contact with either Terricone or Holland after that but agreed that if Medical Evolution ever got back to them with a request to lease the space, they would turn it down, he said.

The next time he heard anything about it was when his property was mentioned in the article that ran in Friday’s paper. “For clarification, we neither issued any proposals nor a lease to Mr. Terricone and Ms. Holland’s group. We have no intention of leasing space at 12 Kent Way as any sort of medical marijuana facility,” he said.

Terricone said he was “a bit blown away” by Kelly’s position and assumes that the landlord may have changed his mind after receiving “political heat” from some stakeholders in the community.

“That’s his choice — it is his building,” Terricone admitted. But he went on to stress that because his company is committed to creating a strong partnership with the community, “it’s important to us that the selectmen know we are taking this seriously and were not dishonest with them at all.”

Kelly said he contacted the paper about the misunderstanding in hopes of allaying “any concerns in the community about the prospect of any such use coming to our property.”

“This is the hardest part of the industry,” Terricone responded. “The people with the loudest voices have a ‘not in my backyard’ attitude, while the majority of the people who support it sit on the sidelines quietly due to fears.”

People in need of medical marijuana “are living in our communities, our neighbors, part of our towns, sick people, people in wheelchairs, people with diseases,” he said. “They have a right to safe access, its the law — and our state voted for it.”

Although he still feels the Kent Way location “would be perfect for our community,” he encouraged any other potential landlords with space to lease to contact him at www.medicinalevolution.com.