State's third marijuana dispensary to open Saturday by appointment only

State's third marijuana dispensary to open Saturday by appointment only

SALEM, Mass. — The state's third adult-use marijuana dispensary has been approved to open as soon as Saturday, Dec. 15.

Alternative Therapies Group, the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the state of Massachusetts back in 2015, will become the state's third retail cannabis shop after receiving its final authorization notice from the Cannabis Control Commission Tuesday.

The dispensary must wait a minimum three calendar days to open after receiving the OK from the CCC, meaning they could be open for business this Saturday.

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As of Tuesday night, 600 appointments were made for Saturday. They are booked solid.

“It seems to be a bit like planning for a rock concert as much as a retail launch," said Chris Edwards, CEO of Alternative Therapies Group.

Edwards said the company has been watching the experience of other rollouts "and trying to find ways to make this a more efficient launch."

NOTE: If you're planning to visit ATG in Salem for adult use, you will need a reservation. If you show up without a reservation, you will not be allowed into the facility.

For local resident Randy Berry, Saturday’s launch signifies when he can begin legally buying something that he’s been smoking for years.

“It’s for people who have pain. I have back pain. I have plates in my back," Berry said. "One joint a day, that’s all I need take a couple hits, put it down until I feel that pain, take a couple more."

"It helps. It does help," he said.

Meanwhile, Salem officials have been keeping a close eye on the daily operations of Cultivate and New England Treatment Access, analyzing what has been working and what hasn't.

"There’s [the] novelty factor [that] we’re going to be the closest to Boston," said Josh Turiel, a Salem Ward Five City Councilor.

If they've learned anything from the recent openings it's to expect large crowds and heavy traffic.

"The experience in Northampton and Leicester has opened our eyes to, "Okay, this something we have to really plan for,'" said Turiel.

ATG, located on Grove Street about a mile and a half from downtown, a spot notorious for traffic congestion, will have to gear up for an even bigger backup once retail sales begin.

Turiel says city officials and police have been strategically planning among themselves and with Alternative Therapies to brace for the potential of being bombarded.

Salem announced Tuesday it has imposed temporary resident-only parking zones in neighborhoods closest to ATG. Customers are advised to take the MBTA Commuter Rail to Salem and then take the ATG shuttle bus from the station to the store.

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