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Barnstable Councilors Visit Marijuana Facility Ahead Of Town Debate

MILFORD (CBS) - Promoting recreational marijuana to Massachusetts towns that may have their doubts. That was the purpose of a unique pot tour Wednesday.

It gave town officials an up close look at a "grow" facility in Milford. That's where Sira Naturals grows and process plants for its three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

Two town councilors from Barnstable visited Wednesday, asking questions and taking notes. It's information they hope helps them next month when they debate an ordinance on whether to allow recreational marijuana sales.

Barnstable town councilors
Michael Dundas, Debra Dagwan and Britt Beedenbender at Sira marijuana facility (WBZ-TV)

They visit one of eight grow rooms, an oil extraction lab and the packaging center. It's also an effort by Sira President Michael Dundas to dispel what he calls misconceptions. "Our role is to help inform and educate folks," he says. "To show them that cannabis, whether on the medical side or the adult use side, is not necessarily this thing that they've been afraid of."

Many Bay State communities have turned away from marijuana sales, passing a moratorium as Barnstable has, or a complete ban. Dundas' goal is to show that modern facilities are as far from back alley drug deals as you can get. "It's a well regulated industry, and we're trying to show it's a professional industry as well," he says.

Sira Naturals marijuana facility in Milford (WBZ-TV)

"Initially, I was absolutely against it," says Barnstable Councilor Debra Dagwan. But she's been slowly changing her mind, and says Wednesday's visit helped her. "I'm thinking now, maybe, we ought to think about regulating it," she says.

"I was very impressed," adds Councilor Britt Beedenbender, who favors allowing retail marijuana sales in Barnstable.

She says she's now more prepared to argue her case. "I've seen it, I know how it works. Now I can at least speak to it with some authority," she says.

The 13 members of the Barnstable Town Council face a tough decision when they take up the issue of recreational marijuana sales in June. The ordinance will contain zoning requirements, which means the bar is higher than a typical ordinance, and requires a two-thirds vote.

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