Verilife in Wareham will start selling recreational marijuana on Dec. 21

Dec 17, 2018

The fourth recreational marijuana store on the East Coast will open in Wareham on Friday, Dec. 21, after state regulators issued a final approval for Verilife, located at 112 Main St. 

Verilife, which has been selling medical marijuana since July, had its final state inspection on Dec. 12. The business is part of the Chicago-based PharmaCannis company.

Shelley Stormo, Verilife’s executive director, said the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has issued a “commence full operations” notice after the business met several state standards. The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday. Originally, Verilife planned to open on Tuesday, Dec. 18, but the date was pushed back. 

The news arrives soon after the state issued a third license to a recreational marijuana retailer in Salem. Two other pot shops, one in the central Massachusetts town of Leicester and another in Northampton, located in western Massachusetts, opened last month. According to media reports, town officials and neighbors in Leicester are still dealing with traffic, noise and trash problems due to the large crowds.

Stormo and other officials addressed concerns during a press conference held on Dec. 14. 

Wareham Police and town officials said they would continue their efforts to prepare for Verilife’s opening. 

“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 be open on Friday according to Lieutenant John Gerard, who helped to design the town’s traffic plan with Sargent Walter Correia. 

“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.”

According to Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, Verilife will pay for the cost of the shuttle service, parking and police details. 

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 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.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we don’t run out,” Stormo said. “We want everyone to leave a happy customer.”

Selectmen Chair Alan Slavin said that the recent opening of a third recreational marijuana store in Salem should hopefully alleviate some traffic issues. 

“There’s going to be a little less pressure on us,” said Slavin.

Slavin also added that various town agencies such as police, fire and EMS have all met to discuss potential issues that may arise at Verilife’s opening. 

“So public safety is a top priority,” said Slavin.  

Slavin said it was hard to gauge just how much of an impact the store’s opening would have for residents.

“We just have to see,” said Slavin. “It’s really hard to say. We’re dealing with stuff we’ve never dealt with before.”