WESTFIELD — Cannabis Connection Inc. received its final license from the state Cannabis Control Commission Thursday, moving what would be Westfield’s first adult-use marijuana location one step closer to opening.
But opening the store, and even officially hiring 30 employees, will have to wait for a final inspection, said Thomas P. Keenan, the company’s CEO. Cannabis Connection doesn’t know if it can get that inspection during the state’s shutdown of nonessential business, which is meant to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Some marijuana retailers sued the state this week to exempt themselves from the ban. Medical marijuana dispensaries are exempt.
Cannabis Connection is a retailer of recreational — called adult-use in the industry — marijuana. It won’t have medical marijuana and won’t have a growing or packaging operation, preferring to buy on the wholesale market.
“But the hiccup is that we are not allowed to be in operation right now,” Keenan said.
Cannabis Connection had planned to open its store, a specially constructed facility at 40 Industrial Park Road, near Exit 3 of the Massachusetts Turnpike, in either March or April.
Also approved Thursday were final licenses for two Canna Provisions marijuana stores: one at 380 Dwight St., Holyoke, and one at 74 Cottage St., Easthampton. Canna Provisions opened its first location in the Berkshire County town of Lee in July 2019. A spokesman said Friday that it will open in Holyoke and Easthampton as COVID-19 regulations lift.
Boston Bud Factory received a final license from the commission as well. The company plans a retail store at 73 Sargeant St. in Holyoke. It also has a provisional license for marijuana product manufacturing at the site, with final approval expected next month.
“Now that the Final License has been received, we can start sourcing and purchasing products as well as start getting staffed for opening once it is safe to do so,” co-owner Frank Dailey said in a news release. “The cannabis industry is finally starting to take shape in Holyoke and Western Massachusetts, and even with these uncertain times it is positive to see more local businesses getting licensed.”
Boston Bud Factory said it is eyeing additional locations in Springfield and in eastern Massachusetts.
Keenan said Cannabis Connection is talking now with the Cannabis Control Commission to see if it can get some product in hand to at least pass its final inspection during the shutdown, even though it cannot open for business.
“So we aren’t sitting around,” he said.
To pass final inspection, a marijuana retailer must demonstrate that it can bring in product, handle it and sell it to a customer following commission procedures.
“I wouldn’t need a full staff,” he said. “I would hope to get a small order in with a core group.” Right now that’s four people including Keenan and co-owner Curt Gezotis.
Keenan said they’ve extended formal job offers to a staff of 30. But they haven’t hired them because they are awaiting an opening date.
Cannabis Connection would be the first marijuana business to open in Westfield.
There is one other marijuana business in development in Westfield. Heka Inc. is building retail and grow facilities nearby at 98 Sgt. T.M. Dion Way, near the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport.
The City Council last month issued a formal request for proposals in hopes of recruiting more marijuana businesses to fill the final two of four available slots for marijuana businesses in the city.
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