Start date for recreational marijuana sales in Wareham once again uncertain
With the start date for recreational marijuana sales in Wareham uncertain once more, town officials held a press conference on Friday afternoon to address concerns about traffic and safety at Verilife.
Verilife, a medical marijuana dispensary located at 112 Main St., was originally set to expand operations to include the sale of recreational “adult use” marijuana on Dec. 18. The business has been selling medical marijuana in Wareham since July. It had its final state inspection for adult-use sales on Dec. 12.
Shelley Stormo, Verilife’s executive director, said the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission had issued a “commence full operations” notice to Verilife, prompting the company to announce Tuesday, Dec. 18, as its opening day.
However, Stormo said, the Dec. 18 opening is not set in stone.
“It’s a moving target,” she said. “We’ll be announcing an official opening date as soon as possible.”
Two other pot shops, one in the central Massachusetts town of Leicester and another in Northampton in western Massachusetts, opened last month. A third recreational marijuana retailer in Salem opened on Saturday.
Whether the Wareham opening is Tuesday or later in the week, Wareham Police and town officials said they would continue their efforts to prepare for Verilife’s opening. Town officials and neighbors in Leicester are reportedly still dealing with traffic, noise and trash problems due to large crowds.
“I’ve been in close contact with Leicester and Northampton’s police chiefs,” said Acting Police Chief John Walcek. “We’re learning from their experiences, and I’m confident in the solutions we’ve created for Wareham.”
To alleviate traffic problems, all visitors to Verilife will be required to park at Water Wizz on Cranberry Highway and take a shuttle. Signs directing visitors to the parking lot will be placed around town.
Visitors parked at Water Wizz will then be given a ticket to ensure their entrance to Verilife. Walk-ins will not be allowed without a ticket.
Walcek said 1,000 to 2,000 visitors are expected on the first day, down from the town’s initial estimate of 4,000.
“Traffic on Cranberry Highway won’t be any worse than it is on a weekend in July,” he said.
The lot at Water Wizz will open at 5 a.m. on opening day according to Lieutenant John Gerard, who helped to design the town’s traffic plan with Sargent Walter Correia. No one will be allowed to park in the lot beforehand, Gerard said.
“Right now, we plan to have the shuttle service in place for 30 days minimum,” Gerard said. “Alternative parking lots have also been discussed if needed.”
On-site parking at Verilife will be reserved for medical patients and customers with handicap placards only.
With Tobey Hospital nearly adjacent to the dispensary, extra precautions have been taken to ensure that visitors do not use the emergency department’s parking lot according to Public Information Officer Maureen Boyle.
“The police department has been phenomenal in helping us find solutions,” she said.
Verilife will have expanded hours on its first two days of operation with doors open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
After those first two days, the store will be open from Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Verilife will limit customers to 800 per day, and restrictions may be placed on how much customers are allowed to buy.
All recreational customers must be 21 years of age or older and have a valid, government-issued ID. Customers are also encouraged to wear warm clothing as long lines are expected. Transactions will be cash only.
Stormo added that anyone leaving Verilife with a receipt will be able to enjoy discounts at local restaurants.