From the Town of Great Barrington

How should the town spend nearly $200,000 in revenue in community impact funds generated by local cannabis sales?

A five-member committee has been named to help answer the question: town residents Rebecca Gold, Tim Eustis, Sally Michael Keyes, Garfield Reed and Holly Hamer will review community funding requests and make recommendations.

Just one retailer–Theory Wellness--has been the only retail store in town until just recently, and its Community Impact Funds are now available for distribution in FY21. Several other retail operations are in various stages of the state approval process, preliminary planning or final construction. Rebelle, a South Main Street shop, has just recently opened.

“We were impressed that about 20 people applied to serve on this committee, and we are grateful for their interest, said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. “This group now has the important task of matching these funds with worthy local causes and organizations and making formal recommendations to my office. This will be an inclusive and thoughtful process and we are looking forward to the results.”

Funds available to the town from Theory Wellness amount to about $185,000, based on its first quarter of operation in early 2019.

In addition to a local sales tax of up to 3 percent, state regulations for cannabis businesses allow municipalities to impose a Community Impact Fee on cannabis-related businesses, also up to 3 percent of sales.

The fee is intended to offset impacts from the cannabis business in the community.

Meanwhile, the state collects a 6.25 percent tax on sales, which generated $122 million in revenue from the first two fiscal years of legal recreational cannabis sales.

“We will have even more funds to consider in the future, once additional businesses open, and as Theory Wellness reports its first full fiscal year of operation, which ended June 30,” said Pruhenski.

The town announced the application process in late 2019 for organizations interested in seeking impact funds.

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