By Alan Keays, VTDigger
RUTLAND TOWN — The state has turned down a proposal to open a medical marijuana dispensary at the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland Town.
Dan Reilly Jr. and his company, Lily Pad Organics Inc., had been seeking to open Vermont’s fifth dispensary at the site on Route 4.
On Friday Reilly was informed earlier in the day that his proposal did not score high enough to beat out another competitor for that new dispensary license.
Instead the state awarded the fifth permit to PhytoScience Institute, which will open facilities in Bennington and St. Albans.
“The reason was that we didn’t accumulate enough points,” Reilly said he was told by a state official. “They told me it was a very competitive process and they decided to go with someone else.”
Josh Terenzini, Rutland Town Select Board chair, said Friday afternoon he was disappointed to hear the news about Reilly’s proposal.
“It’s too bad that we won’t have [a facility] in this area to help benefit the people that need it the most,” Terenzini said.
The state received seven applications from around the state from developers seeking that fifth medical marijuana dispensary license. The application process is confidential so not all the entities applying are known. However, some, including Reilly’s, became public.
Reilly spoke about his proposal at a meeting last month of the Rutland Town Select Board. The local board, which did not need to approve the project, voiced support for his initiative.
Reilly planned to buy and close the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont on Route 4 and turn the building into a medical marijuana dispensary. He is still considering the purchase of the building and hopes to open a dispensary there eventually.
The museum remains open, though a For Sale sign is posted on the property advertising that the price has been reduced.
A recently enacted law allowed the state to license a fifth dispensary to increase patient access. Also, the new law allowed the four existing dispensaries to open a second “satellite” locations. The fifth licensee, once approved, would also be allowed to open a satellite facility.
That is why PhytoScience will open facilities in two locations, both of which are considered to be underserved.
In addition to Reilly’s proposal for Rutland Town, another application for the fifth license called for locating dispensaries in Winooski and Lyndonville with a production facility in Randolph. Other applications that had been identified proposed dispensaries in Bennington and Hartford.
VTDigger reported this week that developers of one proposal in Bennington were told that their application was “incomplete” and would not be considered for the added dispensary license. Another unidentified application was also deemed incomplete.
That left four contenders for that fifth license, including a Burlington group that includes Gardner’s Supply founder Will Raap and Magic Hat founder Alan Newman.
The applications were reviewed by a panel made up of medicinal marijuana registry staff members, a state-registered patient and a caregiver.
Vermont Department of Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson made the final decision after receiving the panel’s recommendation.
The panel scored the applications on a point system, taking into account factors that include security, business plans and the health needs of registered patients.
Reilly, who lives in Mendon, said at the meeting in Rutland Town that his proposal to open a dispensary in Rutland Town was more of a calling than strictly a business decision.
He spoke of his own struggles with medical issues and how medical marijuana has helped him cope with pain.
Reilly said he has had a traumatic brain injury and suffers from diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, Reilly said, he has a condition in his throat that has required a tracheotomy and many surgeries.
The closest dispensary to Rutland is in Brandon, a 30 minute drive. There are also dispensaries in Brattleboro, Burlington and Montpelier.
Under the law, a sixth license, will be issued when the number of registered medicinal marijuana patients in state reaches 7,000. Currently, there are more than 4,000 people on the registry.
Reilly said Friday he would like to seek that sixth license when the opportunity arises.