LYNN — A large number of people are expected to flock to the Lynnway on Saturday for the grand opening of the city’s first recreational marijuana store.
It’s a day that Apothca CEO Joseph Lekach wasn’t sure would ever come.
“It just took forever,” Lekach said. “It’s been a long road. After taking so long, you just wonder: when is it going to happen, is it going to happen? And finally, it is.”
The company opened its medical marijuana dispensary in the 2,000-square-foot Cooper-Lewis building last November, which was also the first in the city, but finally had its recreational license for the site approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) last month.
It wasn’t until last Thursday that the CCC gave Apothca the green light to commence recreational marijuana operations at the store, which allows for the sale of the drug to adults over 21. The shop will officially open at 10 a.m. Saturday, and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony that is expected to be attended by several city officials, according to Lekach.
Recreational customers will be able to choose from a variety of marijuana products. For $175, there’s a half ounce of Platinum Garlic, Moonrise, or Mother of Berries pot. Among pot edibles, a 10-pack of Green Apple Gummies cost $19, and milk and dark chocolate bars are $20.
The store’s opening weekend is expected to draw crowds, which led to a request from the Massachusetts State Police that no parking be allowed in its parking lot at 491 Lynnway, which is aimed at reducing traffic.
For the first weekend, customers will instead be directed to park at the former Porthole Restaurant at 98 Lynnway, where free shuttle buses will take them to the store. Patients with a medical marijuana card will be allowed to skip the line and immediately get onto a bus.
To ensure a safe and smooth opening, Jordan Avery, Apothca’s director of security, said he’s worked closely with Lynn and the Massachusetts State Police over the last few weeks, which will assist with a security detail this weekend.
Leading up to the opening, Lekach said he’s worked closely with the city, including Mayor Thomas M. McGee, Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan, Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard and assistant city solicitor, James Lamanna.
“I think they kind of look to us to kind of set the bar and I like that we’re setting the bar for everyone else,” said Lekach, noting the company has stores in Arlington and Oregon. “We’re the first store and we’re kind of the example for everyone to follow.”
The cash-strapped city is counting on new revenue sources, such as funds from recreational marijuana as it attempts to right itself financially.
Lekach estimated the company’s financial contribution to the city under the terms of a host agreement could net as much as $300,000 or 3 percent of an expected $10 million in sales during the first year. A 3 percent tax approved by Beacon Hill lawmakers will be added to marijuana purchases which would bring another $300,000 to Lynn. The city will get a check in November, the first anniversary of the store opening.
“I think it’s great that the CCC finally approved one in Lynn after so long,” said Starbard, chairman of the City Council Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee. “The vote (to legalize marijuana) came down almost three years ago, so I think it’s a step in the right direction of being able to fulfill the wishes of Lynn voters from the 2016 ballot initiative.
“I also think it will be great for the city from a revenue standpoint, especially when we can get some of the other ones open as well,” he said.
The City Council has approved seven pot shop licenses and there’s one left to be granted. Following heavy opposition last month, the panel tabled a proposal by Diem Cannabis. They proposed a 1,200 square-foot recreational marijuana store in East Lynn.
Although Apothca is the only store to buy marijuana in Lynn, it faces competition from Alternatives Therapies Group in Salem and lower black market prices.
The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.