Marijuana Dispensary on Schedule to Open for Medical Sales in Leominster

October 22, 2018 GMT

LEOMINSTER -- The city’s first marijuana dispensary is expected to open by the end of the year, but it is no longer actively planning to offer recreational sales, according to a developer involved with the project.

Prime Wellness Centers was granted the city’s first ever special permit to offer medical marijuana sales last year, then announced this April that it was considering switching to recreational sales at its still-unopened Lock Drive dispensary.

That change of plans irked some city officials at the time, however Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza and James Xarras, the developer behind the Lock Drive construction, said Friday that Prime Wellness has switched back to looking only at medical sales.

As Xarras explained, the company’s plans changed following the recent acquisition of Prime Wellness Centers by Acreage Holdings, a national cannabis sales company operating in 11 states.

“It had been necessary for Prime Wellness Centers to do recreational sales to financially compete with everyone around them. I don’t think that’s the case for Acreage,” said Xarras. “I think they’re big enough to survive with just medical.”

However, Xarras also noted that recreational sales haven’t been ruled out for the future.

“They do have long-term plans of doing recreational, but not today. I can’t say they never will, but as of today, it’s only medical,” he said.

Referring to a disagreement he had with Prime Wellness CEO John Glowik during a City Council meeting earlier this year over the company’s intentions to do recreational sales, Bodanza said reverting back to medical sales is a less “controversial” option for the company.

“There was a tussle over that in the first hearing. I called Glowik out for a comment he previously made saying he was not interested in doing (recreational sales). He denied making that statement and then the clerk pulled it out of the minutes,” he said. “I want to make it clear Monday night that we know exactly what they are doing.”

Prime Wellness Centers could not be reached for comment Friday, but representatives of the company will be present at Monday’s City Council meeting to present plans for a proposed cultivation facility also located on Lock Drive.

Approval of the cultivation center, which had initially been presented to the council in March, were regularly continued and tabled by the council as the facility had been less than 1,000 feet from another proposed cultivation center on Lock Drive, putting it in violation of the city’s marijuana zoning ordinance. That buffer zone has since been lessened to 500 feet, meaning the council could vote on approving Prime Wellness’ cultivation center at Monday’s meeting.

Prime Wellness’s Lock Drive dispensary is one of three the company is trying to open in Massachusetts and Xarras said it will probably be the last to be operational.

“The Worcester dispensary is getting its certificate of occupation on Monday and then they’ll need to get their provisional license from the state, which could take three to four weeks. Shrewsbury would be another four weeks behind that,” said Xarras. “I think you’re going to see (Leominster) open before the end of this year and I believe that will be strictly medical.”

Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter @PeterJasinski53.