High Hopes for Medical Marijuana Facility
GARDNER -- The Chair City will soon be home to one of the state’s few recreational marijuana dispensaries.
The owners of Sanctuary Medicinals, which celebrated its grand opening as a medical marijuana facility on Friday, said they expect to open to recreational customers by the end of the month.
Philliip Kinzer of Gardner said the facility had already made a major impact on his quality of life over the past few weeks.
“I don’t have to drive all the way to Ayer or Northhampton now, it’s easier for me to come from just two streets over, and I’m happy and my pain is gone,” Kinzer said.
Sanctuary owners stressed that the company would make a marked distinction between medicinal marijuana patients and recreational users.
“We want to be that different dispensary where there are no issues with medical patients, we’re going to have parking for medical patients, and medical patients will always come right to the front of the line,” said Acting Manager Forest Steinberg.
State law requires the facility to keep a certain amount of product available exclusively for medicinal use, according to Steinberg.
Mayor Mark Hawke, who campaigned against the legalization of legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana, said his job as an official was to support the decision of the voters. Hawke said any concerns he may have had were allayed after he met with the owners of Sanctuary.
“They really put us at ease, because when you’re dealing with good people and they’re doing what they say (they would), I feel a lot better,” Hawke said. “The police department has been very pleased with everything Sanctuary has done, the fire department has been pleased, and all of our departments have been pleased, so that really puts my mind at ease.”
Sanctuary CFO Joshua Weaver said he was excited to be one of the first operators to open in the state, and he said his company was working closely with neighboring businesses to make sure everything runs smoothly on Pearson Boulevard.
“We’ve been working with the town for about a year now, and we’ve gotten to know our neighbors and the townspeople pretty well and we’re in the process of formulating a plan to mitigate some of the problems that arose in the other dispensaries that have opened (in the state),” Weaver said.
The setup of the facility looks like a hybrid between a doctor’s office and an upscale coffee bar. After signing in and showing a valid state ID at the front desk, customers will be buzzed into a room where items such as pre-rolled joints, massage oils, and cookies and brownies, with names including “Lemon Haze,” “Alien Rift,” and “Purple Eclipse,” are.
“We carry the best quality products we can, including flower products, concentrates, and hashish,” said Steinberg.
All of the store’s product is grown and shipped directly from the company’s cultivation center in Littleton, which began operations last March.
“That’s where we grow all of our flowers, from little seeds to adult plants,” said Patient Care Adviser Liana Sullivan.
The plants are taken from a grow room to a harvest room, where bigger leaves are removed and left to hang for over a week.
“Then we take them into the trim room and we take the buds and little, tiny leaves off of them, and we package them,” Sullivan said.
After browsing through the first-floor display cases, which also include a variety of vaping products, customers are guided up a few stairs to a room with a long counter and four large-TV menu screens. This is where purchases are finalized. Customers exit the building through a different door from which they entered.
Steinberg said she was anticipating large crowds when Sanctuary opens its doors to recreational users in a few weeks, likening the store’s recreational opening to the end of Prohibition in 1933.
“There were lines out the door at places that were selling alcohol and liquor and beer and wine, so the same thing’s going to happen here,” Steinberg said. “Thankfully, if you look around we have plenty of parking, and we’re going to work the best we can to make sure that there are no issues.”
Follow Stephen Landry on Twitter@StephenLandry17.