• Salem dispensary gears up to become state's 3rd recreational pot shop

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    SALEM, Mass. - After just one week in business, recreational marijuana dispensaries in Leicester and Northampton raked in a whooping $2.2 million.

    Now, Alternative Therapies Group, the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the state of Massachusetts back in 2015, is setting up to become the state's third retail cannabis shop. 

    Situated about a mile and a half from downtown Salem, the dispensary received its final license to sell recreational pot and is expected to begin retail sales within the next two to three weeks after a final inspection is completed.

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

    Alternative Therapies, located on Grove Street, 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.

    "This is a case where the plans are being developed by professionals," said Turiel. 

    Those in charge of planning now have the luxury of actual numbers they can use as benchmarks as they prepare for opening day, something Cultivate and NETA did not have.

    Hard numbers are guiding officials on what to expect in terms of how many people are likely flocking to buy legal pot but also its profit to the local economy.

    In their first five days of being open, the first two pot shops amassed $2.2 million worth of marijuana and marijuana products, which breaks down to more than $376,000 collected by the state in tax revenue.

    For Leicester and Northampton that means upwards of $66,000 in local tax revenue, divided between the two jurisdictions. 

    "I think any commerce brought to the local economy is good commerce, I don’t expect traffic to be moving quickly but won’t bother me," said Katie Mitchell, a commuter.

    Negotiations for a second retail marijuana shop in Salem is already in the works, but with the tedious process of state approvals, there's only so much officials can do to keep up with the demand.

    "The more pot shops they open, the better it’s going to be for everybody," said Ed Rennie, a commuter.

    There are 20 more marijuana retail shops across the state waiting in line, hoping they will be next to receive the final approval.

    Locations of recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts that have received final or provisional licenses.
    Locations of recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts that have received final or provisional licenses.

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