NEW BEDFORD — A unanimous vote by the New Bedford City Council on Thursday has granted permission to ARL Healthcare Inc. to cultivate recreational marijuana in addition to medical marijuana, meaning that once the City's moratorium on recreational retail marijuana ends, the shelves will be stocked with a locally grown product.

The Council voted unanimously to adopt a Draft Adult Use Community Host Agreement between the City and ARL submitted by Mayor Jon Mitchell, which permits the company to cultivate and manufacture marijuana-based products for adult recreational use. However, until the Cannabis Committee is finished drafting zoning laws for recreational marijuana establishments, ARL is prohibited from selling their products in New Bedford.

“ARL will just be a cultivation facility and they will be shipping off the product to other dispensaries throughout the state and country. They do not have a host agreement for a dispensary license,” explained Councillor At-Large Ian Abreu. “Right now as the host agreement states, they will just be cultivating the material and sending it off.”

Abreu, also the Chair of the Cannabis Committee, says that this host agreement is “really the exact same language, the exact same financial mechanism” the council had ratified last year with ARL.

“The only difference is that there is a slight amendment that ARL wanted to move their cultivation from medicinal to recreational, which obviously makes sense with the pending legislation and the inevitable legalization of full recreational cannabis here in the state of Massachusetts,” Abreu said.

A know opponent to recreational marijuana, Councillor At-Large Deborah Coelho has publicly stated her displeasure with the state legalizing the sale of recreational products. Though she advocates against it, Coelho says that the recreational marijuana business is “inevitable” in New Bedford, and that the city might as well get all it can from it.

“I looked at this through a business lens and I want people out there to know that I'm just not so close minded that I'm just going to vote 'no' on anything having to do with the marijuana,” Coelho said. “Tonight I looked at it as a business lens and at some point we have to recognize that this is coming.”

While the Cannabis Committee continues to draft zoning laws for recreational marijuana businesses, ARL is prohibited to sell their recreational products in New Bedford, but can continue to do business with cities and towns across the state and country.

ARL's cultivation and manufacturing facility is located at the New Bedford Industrial Park in the former Aerobox building at 167 John Vertente Boulevard.

New Bedford has a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales until September 30. Abreu says that the Council's plan “is to have this done well before September 30.”

The council also unanimously voted to amend two ordinances regarding problem properties in the city. One amendment will lower the amount of police complaints it takes for a residence to be labeled a “problem property” from eight complaints to four complaints within a 12-month period.

The other amendment will require all owners of non-owner occupied buildings to post the contact information of the property owner, manager, or agent in a conspicuous place in the building's main public area.

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