A new medical marijuana dispensary is opening in Easthampton, MA by the end of this year. The Hampden Care Facility intends on holding a job fair, from which it will select 50-60 workers to run its medical marijuana dispensary at the Keystone Mill. Many of those hired will be in charge of growing and processing the marijuana, as well as providing customer service. Plants are already being grown for the dispensary in the 37,000-foot facility located on Pleasant Street.
Hampden Care representatives appeared earlier this week before the Easthampton Planning Board, where they were awarded an amended special permit that allows them to stay open for extended hours. Their original permit, issued last year, allowed them to operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. However, when the dispensary opens, it will now be allowed to stay open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. This window is significantly longer than the 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. hours that are currently being held at Northampton's New England Treatment Access – Hampden's competitor.
Ian Kelly, Hampden's retail manager, stated that the earlier and later hours allow for increased flexibility for deliveries to be made, as well as increased convenience for the dispensary's customers. Construction for the facility began in December, when the facility received its city building permit. In July, the facility received permission from the state to get started on cultivation. Because medical marijuana takes several months to grow and prepare, the facility expects to be ready to do business by the end of the year.
The final permit from the state, which is the state's approval for the dispensary to begin selling, will not be issued until a final inspection is performed of both the facility and its operations. There is also a rebranding in the works to alter the company's name. Now, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is feeling the pressure of implementing the structure that will oversee the retail marijuana shops that are schedule to open in July of next year.
Hampen is interested in partaking in the recreational marijuana business as well, but it cannot make any plans to do so until the state's newly created Cannabis Control Commission issues the appropriate regulations. Namely, the commission must create and announce these regulations by March 15 and begin accepting license applications by April 1. State licenses for businesses specializing in the sale of recreational marijuana products may be issued as early as July 1.
In 2012, Massachusetts voters approved the state commission to take over the regulation of medical marijuana, which is also in the works. Right now, the program is being managed by the Department of Public Health. Voters approved recreational marijuana in 2016, and in July the state legislature passed its own marijuana law.
In October of 2015, Easthampton approved a zoning ordinance meant to regulate facilities dealing in medical marijuana. Now, the Planning Board is discussing the potential rules that may govern the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana.