WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Woonsocket City Council began its discussion into possibly transforming a mostly vacant mill into a marijuana cultivation site.
The building’s manager, Gerry Beyer, told Eyewitness News last Wednesday that he is making a push to re-purpose part of the mill, allowing a company to move in and grow medical marijuana.
Since last September he has been trying to get the Woonsocket City Council to modify an ordinance that prevents a company from cultivating marijuana for medical purposes at the mill. Beyer said a company would have a Class B license to cultivate medical marijuana in the space.
Woonsocket City Council President Daniel Gendron said the council will continue to discuss the possibility. The council established a subcommittee of three members that will look into the it and eventually bring forth an ordinance to the entire city council.
“It will be something that will be very comprehensive and inclusive, to make sure we protect all the citizens and anyone who can benefit from the cultivation process,” Gendron said.
The once bustling mill was built in 1910. There are still a few businesses in the building, but Beyer says it is three-quarters empty. Some of the rooms have not been occupied in decades.
“We still pay our taxes. But the problem is we’re three-quarters empty. So the only thing that’s coming in that I see is the cultivation of marijuana for the compassion centers. Not for the public, but for the compassion centers,” Beyer said at Monday’s city council meeting.
Beyer said he has the support of Councilman Richard Fagnant, who now wants to join the subcommittee that’s studying it.
“I’m the sponsor of this ordinance,” Fagnant said. “I’ve been pushing it through. I’ve been doing all the work. Why should I just sit back?”
Gendron said the site doesn’t really offer any economic benefits to the city, but he’s slowly starting to support the idea.
Beyer said he’s frustrated that it has taken so long.
“It’s like a tug of war, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of it,” Beyer said.