CHINA — The Planning Board voted to approve a conditional use permit for the town’s first medical marijuana business on Tuesday night.

Nathan White applied for the permit for a commercial building that has been unused for about two years or less on Route 3, said Code Enforcement Officer Paul Mitnik. White plans to cultivate medical marijuana in the building for his business as a medical marijuana caregiver. The building would not be a place of transaction, just a place to grow marijuana plants.

The building at 306 Route 3 has been a dollar store, a convenience store and a small supermarket in the past, Mitnik said, and as such comes equipped with many of the criteria a grow requires.

The board held a public hearing before going through each of the 15 criteria applicants must pass before getting permits. Of the approximately 10 people who attended the hearing, a few voiced support for the business, but none adamantly opposed it.

White said he is planning to employ one person, which is all the state allows, who he already knows and who lives behind the building on Route 3.

A patient of White’s, Scott Fletcher, spoke to the board during the hearing in support of the application.

Fletcher said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy, and he’s been White’s patient for two years. During that time, he’s been able to stop his daily use of many medications doctors had previously prescribed for him.

White took his role seriously and researched which strains of marijuana would best serve Fletcher for his specific illnesses, he said.

“I feel that it is owed to Nate,” Fletcher said, asking the board to approve the permit. “He is a hardworking man that grew up here.”

Fletcher said this could help White improve the lives of more patients.

One resident asked about the potential odor from the cultivation. White said that while the whole process involves a lot of odor, it will stay within the building and he will use carbon processing to filter it. The odors won’t be emitted to the surrounding area, he said.

White also explained the planned security. His employee lives behind the building, so someone will be around nearly round-the-clock. White is also installing cameras and door sensors.

With White fulfilling the 15 criteria, the board approved the permit 4-0, with the provision that if he changes the business from caregiving to a dispensary, he must go before the board again. Chairman Frank Soares was absent from the meeting.

There were few questions from board members, who had reviewed the state’s medical marijuana regulations. Board member Toni Wall asked how White planned to dispose of plant refuse, which he said would be composted at his own residence.

Mitnik, the code enforcement officer, said that he hadn’t received any negative comments from the building’s abutters.

After the meeting, board member James Wilkens said the board had reviewed the criteria and that they “wish (White) future success.”

In other business, the Planning Board decided to hold a visioning session after the holidays to analyze its current conditional use provisions of the land use ordinance. A visioning session is a public meeting for the board to brainstorm and analyze what its problems are before choosing the solution.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour