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Amherst’s first pot shop set to open

  • Marijuana buds in glass jars on wooden background. File photo


Staff Writer
Friday, May 10, 2019

.By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — The town’s first adult-use marijuana dispensary could open by the end of this month.

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission in late April approved a license for Rise Holdings, Inc. at 169 Meadow St., which has operated a medical marijuana dispensary from the same location for the past year.

Jennifer Berry, vice president for retail for GTI, the national company that oversees Rise, wrote in an email last week that a final inspection was expected to place soon. Once that is complete, the company will be setting a firm date for opening for recreational marijuana sales.

An initial inspection March 29 recommended final licensure and uncovered no issues at Rise, according to an executive summary: “No evidence was discovered during the inspection that indicated the marijuana establishment was not in compliance with all applicable state and local codes, bylaws, laws, ordinances, and regulations.”

During that inspection, security, inventory and storage and the retail operation were all examined.

Prior to the opening, town Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz said officials will follow up on the terms of the special permit, modified by the Zoning Board of Appeals over the winter, which allows the hours of operation to be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and for retail sales and medical sales to take place in the same building.

“We still need to confirm that fire and police and inspection services are satisfied with everything they need to do,” Kravitz said.

As part of a contingency plan embedded in the special permit, two weeks before opening for adult-use marijuana sales, Rise has to contact Amherst police and the state’s Department of Transportation.

Detail police officers are expected to be used only on an as-needed basis, while discussions will take place about a permanent crosswalk being installed on Route 116, with the possibility that pedestrians will get to the site from the apartment complexes in North Amherst. The special permit also includes a mandate that there be sufficient parking on site.

A pre-opening meeting has to take place with Building Commissioner Robert Morra, Police Chief Scott Livingstone, Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson and Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring.

Kravitz said he anticipates the town will be ready for whatever impact develops, having observed how dispensaries function in Northampton and Easthampton.

But Kravitz added that an Amherst retailer may see more peaks and valleys, with business depending, in part, on when the University of Massachusetts is in session, and when people are visiting the campus.

As the point person for marijuana in Amherst, Kravitz said the bulk of his work related to Rise will come after it has been in the retail business for a year, when he will determine if the company is following the terms of the host community agreement

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.