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Curbside cannabis: Recreational pot sales to resume Monday

  • NETA in Northampton. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/22/2020 11:09:04 AM

For more than two months, only those with medical marijuana cards issued by the state have been able to continue to get cannabis products from Massachusetts dispensaries.

Beginning as early as Monday — and with various precautionary measures in place that include mandated online or phone ordering ahead of time and no entry into the buildings — anyone who is age 21 and over will again be able to legally purchase marijuana.

At Rise Amherst, the town’s lone dispensary, bringing back adult-use cannabis sales will depend on rehiring a number of employees who have been furloughed and training them in the new procedures, said Ben Sussman, outreach specialist for Rise Massachusetts.

“We’ve got to put systems in place for curbside pickup,” Sussman said.

Sussman said Rise is well-positioned to meet the state requirements, with surveillance cameras already in place and a large parking lot where vehicles can easily line up. In addition, the business has wireless ID scanners and should be able to implement a debit card payment system, though many of the payments will continue to be in cash.

“People are excited we’re reopening. The number one question is how this will work,” Sussman said.

Customers will place their orders and then, when a confirmation has been received, they will get a designated time for pickup and possibly a precise parking spot to be in.

Once the customer is on site, Sussman said, an employee will ask for payment at the vehicle, then go into the building to get the product. The procedure aims for as little interaction as possible between employees and customers.

In Northampton, New England Treatment Access (NETA) will start Monday with curbside pickup that will include both ordering ahead of time and making a reservation for the purchase.

Amanda Rositano, president of NETA, said the company is thrilled to serve the region again, though in a more limited way.

“We will rely on the same systems we have effectively been using to serve our medical patients, such as advanced ordering and scheduled pickup times, as well as following strict safety measures, social distancing, face coverings, and frequent sanitation, as we reintroduce adult-use sales,” Rositano said.

The exact procedures at the Conz Street site, which has limited parking, haven’t been worked out, but whatever is done will have to be approved by the Cannabis Control Commission.

The commission already allowed curbside pickups for medical dispensaries in March. The commission estimates that 44 retailers, including 14 adult-only businesses, will be able to adopt curbside pickup for adult-use cannabis.

“The Cannabis Control Commission, with the cooperation of licensees, municipalities, and most importantly, registered qualifying patients, has demonstrated that we are effectively able to preserve public health and safety through curbside operations and other emergency protocols,” Executive Director Shawn Collins said in a statement.

To ensure this safety, all licensees are being required to submit to the commission standard operating procedures for curbside operations at least 48 hours before beginning. Those procedures have to show an updated facility layout identifying designated curbside sales area, traffic queuing plans, and signs to direct patients and customers.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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