Communities in central and western Massachusetts could soon host the first two retail marijuana shops on the East Coast. Police chiefs there are getting ready for the rush.
The state's Cannabis Control Commission has given final approval to recreational pot shops in Northampton and Leicester. The commission's head said he thinks their opening is weeks away.
Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper said she anticipates a lot of traffic.
"The ways we're preparing for the initial opening is certainly having officers posted down around our facility here dealing with traffic, and trying to get everyone in and out pretty smoothly," she said.
Chief Jim Hurley of Leicester said he's focusing on parking, and will take a wait-and-see attitude on having officers present.
"There may be individuals that would not pull in if they saw a police officer out there," he said. "And my position is very clear. This is the law. It was voted on by the residents of the Commonwealth, and it's our job to facilitate it working in a legal manner, and getting the people in that want to get their marijuana, and getting them out safely."
Pittsfield, Montague, Easthampton and Greenfield could also have retail pot shops in the future. The state has OK'd provisional licenses there.
Dispensary Says It's Ready
The Northampton store will be operated by New England Treatment Access.
Norton Arbalaez works for the company and said it's ready to meet demand.
"We've invested millions of dollars in our production infrastructure, and have more than doubled our capacity to supply," Arbalaez said. "We've brought on 100 new people on the retail section, security, logistics, tranportation -- you name it -- to get ready for this demand."
Before opening, the recreational marijuana shops in Northampton and Leicester must join a system to track marijuana plants from seed to sale and undergo another inspection.
This report includes information from State House News Service.