By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – The opening of Hudson’s second recreational marijuana dispensary, this month, has gone more smoothly than this community’s first experience with legal pot did early last year, town officials agree.
Speaking on the eve of a grand opening, Dec. 10, executive assistant Tom Moses and Police Chief Rick DiPersio both said this progress comes thanks to better state oversight and more on-site parking at Native Sun Wellness compared to its predecessor in town, Temescal Wellness.
“We are on the flattening part of the learning curve,” Moses said of municipal navigation of that state approval process in an email to the Community Advocate.
Native Sun is a new outlet across the street from the Highland Commons complex, which straddles Hudson and Berlin. Confined by Hudson’s marijuana overlay district on that corner of town, Native Sun is, furthermore, just a half a mile down the road from Temescal, which opened as Hudson’s first dispensary last February.
That opening, though, didn’t go smoothly.
Initial miscommunications through social media led to confusion over when sales would actually begin. It took press releases from town officials to clarify that Temescal wouldn’t be opening its doors, at all, until it submitted a traffic management plan to the police department.
From there, all customers had to park at a rented off-site lot on Packard St. to then be shuttled via bus to the actual Temescal storefront.
In time, as Temescal remained busy, Packard St. residents voiced frustrations over noise, speeding, and alleged intoxicated driving all connected to the shuttle lot.
Now, at Native Sun, Moses and DiPersio say they don’t expect a repeat of any of those types of issues.
Native Sun, indeed, has a parking lot orders of magnitude larger than the small space outside Temescal. Though they have plans drawn up should they need them, and though they’ve contracted a town police officer to post a detail during operation hours through mid-December, Native Sun expects to handle things with their on-site capacity alone.
Likewise, simple lessons learned both in Hudson and around the state after numerous chaotic dispensary openings in 2019, Moses added, are sticking with town officials.
“As more establishments opened up in the commonwealth, the original parking problem with Temescal receded into the past,” he said.
Native Sun had been in talks with town officials since at least 2018 to open a dispensary in town. Now happy to have finally secured proper state permits, a spokesperson for the company has conveyed both Native Sun’s excitement to open as well as its preparedness to tackle the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Native Sun is taking the responsibility seriously to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers by limiting in store interactions, cleaning surfaces between transactions, encouraging online ordering and express pickups, and enforcing necessary PPE and social distancing,” that spokesperson, Colby Wood, said in an email.
Likewise, both DiPersio and Moses lauded Native Sun for their communication with town officials. Moses then added that, even with the confusion of Temescal’s opening, both local marijuana companies have been strong community partners over the years.
“The entire process went pretty smoothly with them,” Moses said, focused back on Native Sun specifically. “…Their ownership, staff, lawyers and consultants are professional…We wish them success.”