Illustration by Harley Turso
By Nick Bruinooge
Bringing recreational marijuana dispensaries to life has been a lengthy and tedious process for the individual towns who voted in favor of allowing sales following its statewide legalization in 2016.
On November 20, 2018, Massachusetts’ first recreational dispensaries opened in Northampton and Leicester. Five Cape Cod towns (Mashpee, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, Provincetown) have approved the distribution of recreational marijuana and other Cape towns are preparing to open stores as early as summer of 2019.
“There are a lot of state regulations to be met, so it really depends on how fast the process goes,” Wellfleet Town Selectman Justina Carlson said when asked about the time table for the opening of Wellfleet’s dispensary.
One of the dispensary locations is the former site of the South Wellfleet General Store, off of Route 6 in South Wellfleet.
According to a June 28, 2018 article in Cape Cod Times, a marijuana distributor with both a medical and recreational sales license, called “Nature’s Alternative,” plans to use this location as a marijuana retail shop.
The Chief Executive of Nature’s Alternative, David Miller, stated that he expects the business to generate $5 million a year and employ 10 to 12 people year round. According to Selectman Carlson, Miller later retracted that statement and now expects this store to be seasonal like the majority of businesses in the Nauset area.
A big concern for Wellfleet locals throughout this process has been the added traffic and tourism during an already crowded summer season. Eric Wilkey of Wellfleet said in an interview that he “definitely” expects a rise in traffic and weekend tourism if these dispensaries are operational this summer.
“The traffic in town is already annoying in the summer, it will definitely be worse when these stores pop up,” Wilkey said.
Despite the concerns of locals, Selectman Carlson says that she does not expect to see a big spike in tourism and traffic because of the other towns on Cape Cod, and in other parts of the state, that have or will have stores of their own. How soon these stores will actually be coming still remains to be seen, but summer 2019 is still on the table according to Carlson.
The marijuana business is booming in Massachusetts and Cape Cod is about to be a big part of that industry.