By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Confusion over the status of a planned recreational marijuana dispensary briefly boiled over into a social media storm earlier this month before officials finally clarified that Temescal Wellness will not, indeed, be selling recreational marijuana until it submits a still incomplete traffic management plan to the Hudson Police Department.
Cleared by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to commence sales on Jan. 12, news reports and social media posts by dozens of citizens suggested to the broader community that Temescal Wellness would actually begin sales on that date. Almost as quickly as the misinformation spread, however, press releases from Executive Assistant Tom Moses and Police Chief Michael Burks clarified that was not the case.
Before even scheduling an opening date, the business must submit a traffic management plan including planned parking locations, to the police department. As of Jan. 16, Temescal still had not done that.
“We want to ensure that Temescal Wellness has a strong plan in place to ensure that traffic impact is minimized and that public safety is guaranteed upon its opening,” Burks said in his statement earlier this month. “We are committed to working with the business to ensure they have as smooth an opening as possible, but will not rush the opening at the expense of the public’s best interest.”
First permitted as a medical marijuana dispensary, Temescal began working to add a recreational arm after state voters opted in 2016 to legalize adult recreational use via a ballot question that year.
After several years of political back and forth at the state and local level, Temescal finds itself in line to join the short list of dispensaries across the state to have completed the rigorous permitting process to legally sell their product to recreational users.
Simultaneously, it’s the circumstances surrounding the opening of some of those other dispensaries that officials like Burks are citing as reasons for methodically completing things like the traffic management plan.
“Safety is a major concern–it’s safety [concerns] and inconvenience to the motoring public– that’s what I’m trying to prevent with the traffic plan,” Burks said in a recent interview. “I’m just trying to prevent some of the issues we saw at other establishments.”
Notably, a dispensary in Leister frustrated its abutters during the first week of sales as countless cars filled area streets, obstructing traffic to such an extent that the town called an emergency meeting to discuss better crowd management.
To prevent similar problems in Hudson, Burks said he expects Temescal to arrange off-site parking for customers and a shuttle system to bring customers to its doors from that parking lot. Additionally, to discourage dangerous behavior, such as parking across the street from the dispensary and crossing traffic on foot to get in line, Burks hopes Temescal will devise a system to only sell to customers with proof they took the aforementioned shuttle to the store.
Temescal addressed all this in a statement released just as Hudson was releasing its own statements clarifying the confusion earlier this month.
“Temescal Wellness is proud to have received our Commence Operations Notice from the Cannabis Commission for both our Pittsfield and Hudson locations,” wrote CEO Ted Rebholz “We have not yet established an opening date for our Hudson location as we continue working with the Hudson community, local officials, and the Hudson Police Department to coordinate parking and transportation for the facility. We are committed to ensuring that our opening in Hudson is a seamless one for the town and our customers.”
Reiterating part of what Rebholz said, Burks said he has no timetable for when the dispensary will actually open for recreational sales, but added that he will permit that opening date once he sees a satisfactory traffic plan.
“I’m in no hurry,” he said. “It’s not my establishment. I just want to know what is their plan? If they come up with one tomorrow and say ‘What do you think?’ and we determine its a go, from there we can figure out a date for them to put this into action.”