Pittsfield marijuana retailer greets politicians ahead of Tuesday rollout

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PITTSFIELD — Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz was the honorary first recreational marijuana customer at his city's first shop, but Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said she won't be doing the same.

"He was very brave," she said Monday, as she stood in front of the retail counter at 10 Callahan Drive.

Still, Tyer joined legislators for a Monday afternoon tour of Temescal Wellness, where the city's first recreational cannabis sales are scheduled to commence at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Tyer tagged along with state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark. Employees with furrowed brows flitted around in a focused flurry, moving boxes and checking stock behind the counter as politicians milled around the shop.

Julia Germaine, the company's corporate development director, said the Tuesday opening reflects years of work. The company bought the property in 2013, she said, and spent $1 million to construct the building.

"It's very gratifying to welcome in the legislators " she said. "We're here to make Pittsfield proud, and participate in the revitalization."

Some 20 employees will work Tuesday at Temescal, some of whom mill around outside and talk to people about the purchasing process and regulations before they head onto the retail floor, Germaine told community leaders. Customers will get a pamphlet informing them about marijuana laws, health effects and usage guidelines.

Temescal leaders also plan to place heated tents and portable bathrooms outside for those waiting in line, and the company struck a deal with Fontaine's Auction Gallery to lease some of their parking spaces for three months following the Tuesday opening.

Everyone who enters the store must have an ID. "No excuses," said Amy DiSciullo, the company's community development coordinator. Those with fake ID cards will be banned from the store, she said.

A group of police officers with the Pittsfield Police Department also toured the facility Monday in preparation for their detail on Tuesday. There will be two officers at a time directing traffic on Route 20.

Tyer wished Temescal leaders luck on her way out the door.

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"I know it's been a long time coming," she said.

Final wave of hiring

The Pittsfield facility will employ 16 people following a final wave of hiring underway, said Crystalyn Adams, the store's manager. Salaries start at $14 an hour.

Adams, from Texas originally, recently moved to the Berkshires from Charlton to manage the shop.

The Pittsfield store has made 750 sales since it opened to medical card holders in October. A lot of them, she said, are looking for pain relief.

Temescal Wellness, which has operations in Maryland and New Hampshire, also has dispensaries in Hudson and in Framingham. While the company does business in multiple states, by law Temescal can only sell marijuana that is grown and manufactured at its facilities in Massachusetts.

Temescal's cultivation and manufacturing happens at its facility in Worcester. In response to questions from Tyer and Farley-Bouvier, Germaine explained that products are transported to Temescal's retail outlets by licensed van and are counted under surveillance cameras upon arrival, to be sure nothing was lost in transit.

She said the company also chooses to seal its products in air-tight packaging before it leaves, so that employees aren't exposing marijuana to the open air like those at other dispensaries do.

Each customer can buy up to an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, plus up to two pre-rolled joints and one vape pen or cartridge.

Temescal will charge $48 for an eighth of an ounce, plus 20 percent tax. The state gets 17 percent of the tax, while three percent goes directly to city coffers. Germaine said the company tried to keep their pre-tax prices on par with black market ones.

Company leaders said the full menu of products would be available online before Tuesday morning.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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