PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Local marijuana growers are keeping busy as Massachusetts gets closer to opening marijuana retail shops.
Many cities and towns in the Bay State are doing everything possible to delay these shops from opening, but not the mayor of Attleboro. Mayor Paul Heroux is working to make his city marijuana friendly as city councilors work to draft regulation ordinances.
"It could bring several hundred thousand dollars, which would be really nice for our budget," said Heroux. How close Attleboro is to the state border played a factor in that calculation, according to Heroux.
That proximity also played a factor for potential retailers. "It's a great location," said Derek Ross, the president of the Bristol County Wellness Center, Attleboro’s first medical marijuana dispensary. But it will take time for his dream to come to fruition.
"Even after we're done with all our approvals and we get all our licenses, we then have to build out a facility,” he explained. “That facility could take six to eight months to complete, and then after that, we have to get an additional approval and then we can plant cannabis."
In Rhode Island, Rep. Scott Slater has been pushing to regulate marijuana for years. "Now they're going to be able to go across the border [and] give their tax money to Massachusetts,” he said. “Rhode Island will lose out double-fold, because they'll lose out in the medical program as well."
The head of the state’s medical marijuana program, Norman Birenbaum, says otherwise. He argues recreational marijuana is not as strong for chronic pain as medical grade, adding the sales tax across the border is nearly double.
Even though marijuana retail in Massachusetts technically begins in July, many businesses may not be open by then with different regulation hurdles. Ross hopes to be fully up and running his retail business by January.