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Pot Company: Plan for Fitchburg Shop Stresses Security

August 3, 2018

FITCHBURG -- Colonial Cannabis Company is rushing to open a recreational dispensary on Water Street, the general manager said Thursday, but doesn’t expect to open its doors until early 2019.

“It has been our business’s intention to open up as soon as possible,” General Manager Jack Carney told about 20 residents and public officials who attended an afternoon community outreach meeting at the Fitchburg Public Library.

Carney said Colonial Cannabis Company is working to open three recreational cannabis retail shops statewide, one in Pittsfield, Northampton and at 143-145 Water St. in Fitchburg.

The company is still negotiating a host-community agreement with the city, according to Carney. Such agreements lay out financial contributions a cannabis company must give to a municipality or local charity as compensation for doing business there.

Carney said the company plans to contribute money for programming on, among other topics, youth diversion and safe consumption

Host-community agreements are also prerequisite to getting a license from the state to open a recreational retail establishment. Carney said he expects to finalize his agreement with the city in the next two weeks.

After the agreement is finalized, Carney said Colonial Cannabis Company will apply for a retail license through the Cannabis Control Commission.

Carney outlined the steps a customer would take to purchase products at the shop, which will eventually include cannabis flowers, infused lotions and edibles. The types of products sold at the shop will grow, and prices will come down as cannabis producers catch up with demand, he said.

A security guard will check identification at the door using a digital scanner and UV light, he said. Only those with a valid US identification or international passport who are over 21 years old to enter.

Menus will be available with product offerings, and a cashier will check identification again at the register, said Carney.

“That’s three checkpoints to ensure someone has a valid ID,” he said.

In response to an audience question about adults buying cannabis at the shop then giving it to those under 21, Carney said he is aware of that happening at liquor and tobacco stores.

He said police would be called if an employee sees “suspicious external activity” outside the shop.

Employees will also call police if someone attempts to use a fake ID, he said. They are not be allowed to “detain” anyone until police arrive, he said.

“If we catch a fake ID we agreed with the city to alert authorities,” he said.

Signs will be posted in the parking lot warning customers not to consume there. The business will be cash only, and have an ATM inside, he said, as federally insured banks are steering clear of the industry.

A “standard alarm system” will notify police within five minutes in the event of a break-in, he said. Several security cameras will be positioned to capture scenes inside and outside Colonial Cannabis Company.

The security camera footage would be accessible to company administrators, and if cases warrant, the camera footage would be shared with police when needed, Carney said.

Cannabis Colonial Company started in 2012 and primary sells horticulture supplies from establishments in Washington state, Oregon and Massachusetts, according to Carney.

City Councilor Paul Beauchemin asked Carney how much shop employees would be paid and if they would be offered benefits.

Carney said the proposed Fitchburg location, if it receives the necessary approvals, will employ three to four people when it first opens. Starting wages for a cashier will be around $12 to $13, according to Carney, who said benefits like health insurance, and programs to offset employees’ educational expenses, will not be offered.

Carney said the proposed location of the retail cannabis shop is large. He said the company, which rented two storefronts at Water Street Plaza, is considering opening a separate “Asian style bistro” in one store.

The dispensary and restaurant would not be connected, he said.

“We’re considering something along those lines, but we’re still discussing that topic internally,” he said.

Colonial Cannabis Company will petition the Planning Board for a special permit to open the recreational cannabis shop at a public meeting on Aug. 21.

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