The State We’re In: INSA Easthampton Recreational Marijuana Sales | Connecting Point | Dec. 7, 2018

The State We’re In: INSA Easthampton Recreational Marijuana Sales | Connecting Point | Dec. 7, 2018


TWO IN ABOUT ONE MONTH’S TIME. THAT’S THE NUMBER OF RETAIL
MARIJUANA STORES THE REGION IS SET TO HAVE, PENDING THE OPENING
OF INSA IN EASTHAMPTON. THE OPENING OF NEW ENGLAND
TREATMENT ACCESS IN NORTHAMPTON LAST MONTH BROUGHT WITH IT LONG
LINES AND INCREASED TRAFFIC; SOMETHING EASTHAMPTON MAYOR
NICOLE LACHAPELLE AND INSA EASTHAMPTON CEO MARK ZATEARKA
SAY THEY HAVE PLANNED FOR. WE WILL GET IN TO QUESTIONS
ABOUT THOSE MATTERS IN A MOMENT. BUT FIRST, I ASKED ZATEARKA THE
QUESTION MANY PEOPLE WANT AN ANSWER TO — WHEN WILL THEY
OPEN?>>WE DON’T HAVE
AN EXACT DATE YET. SOMETIME BETWEEN THE 13TH AND
THE 24TH, SOMEWHERE IN THERE.>>GREAT, SO AS YOU ARE GEARING
UP TO ADD RECREATIONAL TO THE ALREADY MEDICINAL FACILITY YOU
HAVE THERE, YOU HAVE THE DISTINCTION OF WATCHING TWO
OTHERS OPEN UP IN THE REGION. ARE YOU ADJUSTING FOR THINGS
THERE FOR INSA?>>YEAH, FIRST I HAVE TO SAY I
THINK THEY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT, EVERYTHING WAS CIVIL AND WENT
SMOOTHLY AND PAYING ATTENTION TO THE FACT WE NEEDED TO PAY
ATTENTION TO TRAFFIC AND PARKING AND THAT IS A AN OPPORTUNITY WE
HAVE OVER THE OTHER LOCATIONS.>>MEANING YOU HAVE THE SPACE?>>YES, AND MULTIPLE OVERFLOW
LOTS AS WELL. OUR GOAL IS TO GET PEOPLE OFF
PLEASANT STREET AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE TO BE LESS DISRUPTIVE
TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. TO SHOW THEY HAVE A PLACE TO
PARK AND THEY ARE NOT AFFECTING OR OTHER BUSINESSES AS WELL IN
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT AND THAT EVERYTHING IS AS ORDERLY AND
MANAGEABLE AS POSSIBLE.>>MAYOR, AS YOU HAVE OBSERVED,
THE PROCESS COULD BE A LITTLE EASIER THAN IN NORTHAMPTON. HAVE YOU TALKED TO THE MAYOR
THERE?>>WE TALKED BACK AND FORTH
ABOUT WHERE EACH FIRM WAS, OPENING FOR RETAIL. A LOT OF CONVERSATION HAS
HAPPENED IN THE PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENTS IN ALL PHASES OF THE
COMMUNITY AND TO OPEN, I DO THINK THERE WERE A LOT OF THINGS
DONE RIGHT. ONE OF THE LESSONS THAT MYSELF
AND PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENTS HAVE REALLY LEARNED IS ABOUT
FLEXIBILITY. THIS IS A NEW INDUSTRY, A VERY
NEW THING FOR OUR AREA. WE HAVE UNIQUE TRAFFIC PATTERNS
AND TO BE FLEXIBLE ONCE YOU SEE THE EBB AND THE FLOW AND HOW
MANY CONSUMERS ARE COMING IN AND OUT, IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE
TO REACT TO THAT AND CERTAINLY A GOOD LESSON TO BE TAKEN FROM
BOTH OF THE OTHER COMMUNITIES AND MARK AND HIS TEAM HAVE BEEN
VERY GOOD PARTNERS. I MEAN, THE CONVERSATIONS
BETWEEN DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS AND MY OFFICE HAVE BEEN ONGOING,
YOU KNOW, FOR THE LAST YEAR FOR SURE. SO WE ANTICIPATE A COUPLE MORE
CONVERSATIONS BEFORE OPENING AND TO ADJUST THE PLAN BUT ALSO
PLANNED FOR OVERFLOW OR ALTERNATIVES SO THE TRAFFIC CAN
FLOW AS EASILY AS POSSIBLE.>>I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE
SAW WHEN HE WERE OUT AT NORTHAMPTON FOR OPENING,
OBVIOUSLY THE LONG LINES STAND OUT. WE TALKED TO FOLKS BETWEEN THREE
TO ONE HOUR TO GET THEIR PRODUCTS FROM THE INSIDE OF THE
STORE. SEEING THOSE LONG LICENSED SOME
PEOPLE IN SOUTH HADLEY CONCERNED AND THEY HAVE NOT APPROVED THE
USE OF MARIJUANA IN THAT COMMUNITY, SAYING THE LONG LINES
CREATE SOME HYPE FOR YOUNG KIDS AND CONCERNED THIS IS SENDING
THE WRONG MESSAGE TO KIDS THAT THIS IS IT THE WRONG THING TO BE
STANDING IN LINE FOR.>>WELL, WE DO EVERYTHING WE CAN
DO NOT MARKET TOWARDS KIDS IN ANY WAY. HAVING A LONG LINE IS A LITTLE
OUT OF OUR CONTROL. I THINK THAT IS JUST THE WAY THE
STATE HAS APPROVED DIFFERENT OPERATORS AND AT THE PACE THEY
ARE APPROVING THEM AT.>>YOU THINK THE LINES WILL DIE
DOWN ONCE MORE FACILITIES ARE OPEN ACROSS THE STATE?>>OH, YEAH, DEFINITELY. AND BEING THE FIRST TWO OPEN
REALLY EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI, THAT IS A BIG DEAL AND A LOST
FOCUSES ON JUST TWO SITES AND WE HOPE TO BE THE THIRD OR FOURTH
OPEN O EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI SO I AM SURE WE WILL HAVE OUR
SHARE OF LINES BUT AS THEY APPROVE MORE AND MORE
DISPENSARIES, THOSE LINES WILL GO DOWN.>>THE PROCESS AROUND THE
ORDINANCE AND CONSIDERATION OF LOCATION AND LINES AND WHAT THE
PUBLIC CAN SEE IN PROXIMITY TO SCHOOLS WAS A LONG, VETTED
PUBLIC CONVERSATION, NOT JUST AROUND THE INSA APPLICATION BUT
THE CREATION OF OUR ORDINANCE. AND THERE WAS A IMPORTANT LESSON
TO BE LEARNED THERE. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE EFFECT OF
ALCOHOL, VAPING, THE LOTTERY AND THOSE VERY ATTRACTIVE
ACTIVITIES, WHAT DOES THE MESSAGE SEND TO YOUTH? SO NOT THAT THE LINES AREN’T AN
ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE AND THOSE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 WILL BE A
HEIGHTENED INTEREST BUT THEY ARE ALSO WALKING BY A LOT OF
ALCOHOL, LOTTERY AND VAPING SIGNS THAT ARE NOT APPROPRIATE
FOR THEIR AGE. THIS IS ABOUT FORWARD THINKING
EDUCATION AND CHOICES AND LETTING CHILDREN KNOW IN A VERY
INFORMAL, FACT-FILLED PROCESS OF WHAT THESE CHOICES ARE ABOUT AND
HOW THEY ARE PRESENTED IN LINE, THAT THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE
AND REASON FOR THAT.>>ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS,
MONEY HAS BEEN A FACTOR AND THE PRICE YOU ARE GOING TO
PAY,’3 PERCENT OF THE GROSS SALES, IS THAT RIGHT?>>YES.>>WHY DID YOU AGREE TO THE
ADDITIONAL 3 PERCENT?>>WELL, WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT
TO BE A BURDEN ON THE COMMUNITY AND UNDERSTAND THE COMMUNITY
NEEDS TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH US BEING THERE OR THE RELATIONSHIP
WON’T WORK. AND SO WE FELT LIKE THAT WAS
SOMETHING THAT WE COULD DO TO HELP SUPPORT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
AND SCHOOLS AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT CAN MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE
FOR THE COMMUNITY AND TO LIVE THERE.>>SO FOR INSA, THE SALES
FIGURES THEY BROUGHT IN IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS, YOU ARE LOOKING
AT $78,000 IF YOU WERE TO SWAP FACILITIES IN TWO WEEKS. ANY WORD ON HOW THE COMMUNITY
WILL USE THIS ADDITIONAL MONEY?>>SO IN THE LAST YEAR AND OUT
IN A MORE HOLISTIC WAY, WE STARTED A NEW BUDGET PRACTICE
BASED ON THE NATIONAL MODEL THAT ACTUALLY FORECASTS OUT THIS TYPE
OF ARE REVENUE AND WHERE WE NEED TO BE WHEN THE ECONOMY IS NOT SO
ROBUST, WHEN WE DON’T HAVE AN EXCITING NEW BUSINESS COMING
INTO TOWN AND WHERE THOSE MONIES WILL BE TO OFFSET THE DEBT
COMING ON WITH, YOU KNOW, THE SCHOOL BOND AND TO LOOK AT OUR
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS. I THINK THE OTHER THING TO NOTE
IS THE THOROUGH NESS AND VETTING OF LOCAL ORDERS BUT ALSO THE
STATE PROCESS HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COMING AND THE IMPACT ON
OUR LOCAL DEPARTMENTS HAS BEEN NOTICEABLE AND THERE ARE OTHER
PARTS OF PROJECTS AS WELL AS RESOURCES THAT WE WOULD HAVE
LIKED TO PURSUE SOONER THAT YOU NEED TO GO BACK AND FILL SOME OF
THOSE GAPS BECAUSE THE STATE REQUIREMENTS WERE SO STRINGENT
IN SOMETHING SO NEW SO 3 PERCENT IS EXCITING AND THEY DO HAVE SO
MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS AND THAT IS VERY EXCITING AND SO I
WISH THEM ALL THE SUCCESS. DOLLARS EARNED ARE BEST
WELL-SPENT IN INSTITUTIONS SO WE HAVE HAD THIS DISCUSSION IN WHAT
WE’RE DOING BUT PUBLIC SAFETY IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT AND OUR
DEPARTMENT HAS DONE A GOOD JOB WITH THAT.

2 thoughts on “The State We’re In: INSA Easthampton Recreational Marijuana Sales | Connecting Point | Dec. 7, 2018”

  • Informative. I do hope that Easthampton will be very careful considering the burdens of added traffic & parking concerns while looking at the proposal for a pot shop on Cottage Street. It seems the wrong place to permit a shop in that location. Even the small size proposed might lead to big logistical problems.

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