Opening delayed for Lee's first retail pot store

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LEE — The town's first retail recreational marijuana store will debut a month later than expected, giving the owners more time to hire additional staff and prepare for opening day.

Canna Provisions officials say an unexpected delay in the state Cannabis Control Commission acting on the company's final license has pushed a potential decision until later this month. The commission's website indicates the meeting agenda for April 25 won't be posted until April 23.

The adult-use retail store was planning to open last week after the commission in February awarded the Boston-based firm a provisional license, a prerequisite before the state panel will consider final licensure.

Canna Provisions Chief Operating Officer Erik Williams is confident of a commission vote in two weeks, as a state inspection of the Housatonic Street facility is set for Wednesday.

"We're ready to go; our staff is fully trained," Williams told The Eagle last week during a job fair at the store.

More than 70 people filled out applications during the five-hour hiring event, vying for 20 additional positions at the store. Williams noted the 28 people already on the payroll have been getting the shop ready to receive recreational marijuana product and learning the protocol on selling to adults at least 21 years old with proper identification.

Canna Provisions has been working toward an opening day since the Lee Planning Board and Select Board gave local approval to the project in August. Mass. Property Partners LLC, which owns the property, has been renovating the former used-car dealership building on behalf of Canna Provisions for the past several months.

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The landlord bought the 1.8-acre site for $917,200 from Bart Collins, owner of Southern States Auto Sales, a long-established business that the auto dealer is looking to relocate in the Lee area.

Canna Provisions is owned by Williams, CEO Meg Sanders and Eugene McCain from West Newton, who originally formed the company.

To start, the store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and have security personnel onsite. Williams has said hours of operation could expand to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the maximum allowed under town regulations.

In anticipation of a cannabis crush of customers, Williams said two off-duty police officers will direct traffic in front of the store and off-site parking will be available within a short walking distance.

"We have secured 41 spots between the Super 8 Motel and the Pilgrim Inn. We also have off-site parking for our employees," he said.

A major concern from the beginning for Canna Provisions and town officials is the traffic impact, as the pot shop is just off Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike and is located next to a Dunkin' and across from a McDonald's. Canna officials have noted the property will have a one-way in entrance and one-way out exit to minimize its effects on traffic along Housatonic Street.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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