A major victory was won earlier this month in the arduous and often heated battle between Cape Cod and legalized cannabis when the first recreational cannabis shop on the peninsula officially opened its doors Feb. 6.
Even on a chilly day in February, a long line of customers eager to purchase cannabis products formerly unavailable to them anxiously waited for the doors to open. Along with the enthusiastic customers, local officials and plenty of media filled the former bank turned cannabis retail shop on Commercial Street in downtown Provincetown. But this coveted location did not come easy.
Since its passage into state law in 2016, Massachusetts’ recreational rollout has officially become the most complex and stymied of all the other legalized cannabis markets in the country. Roadblocks such as licensing hurdles and strong opposition from Cape Cod residents have been the primary barrier to cannabis on the Cape – a fight stretching all the way back to the legalization of medical cannabis in 2012.
For years, heated town moratoriums typically ending with decisions to ban cannabis-related establishments have made it virtually impossible for both medical and recreational cannabis retailers to establish any presence on the Cape.
To the surprise of many, not only did Provincetown residents welcome a recreational cannabis shop, they welcomed Curaleaf, the single largest cannabis retailer in the country, and now the first to plant its flag on coveted Commercial Street.
Curaleaf’s headquarters is in Wakefield, but they also have locations in 12 states, including at least 50 dispensaries, 14 cultivation sites and 13 processing sites around the country. Their new Provincetown location carries a wide array of cannabis products such as flower, concentrates, tinctures, edibles, and topicals – all in different strengths and THC to CBD ratios.
Provincetown is easily one of the most desirable locations in Massachusetts. A beautiful area to vacation in the summer, the Cape-tip town has always been a mecca for enlightened thinking, creativity and cannabis culture, so it’s no surprise locals didn’t voice much resistance.
“Provincetown was a strategic choice on our part,” said Patrik Jonsson, Curaleaf Massachusetts president. “Very early on Provincetown was in favor of medical and adult-use. Of course, we knew it would be cyclical there with huge spikes in the summer, but we saw it as a unique opportunity on the Cape.”
The company’s first location was on the outskirts of town and for over a year Curaleaf wrangled with the town about parking and traffic issues at the site. When a zoning change came along that allowed for new businesses to move into the Town Commercial Center, Curaleaf approached the town to move the location for its retail shop.
“Which would mean that the parking and traffic issues would no longer be a concern. But, more importantly we would be in the center of activities downtown. It’s been great working with town officials through the permitting process,” Jonsson added.
Reception from residents in Provincetown could have gone very differently as a result of a long-standing distrust of large, outside corporations. But when that outsider sets up a cannabis marketplace in an art-driven beachside paradise, weariness turns to warmth real fast.
Although the skies look clear for Curaleaf establishing the Cape as a colorful cannabis marketplace, WickedLocal.com reported Provincetown Police Chief Jim Golden’s discussion with the select board regarding the opening, cautioning that there may be a trial-and-error period as a result of Wareham’s profound rise in traffic after allowing their first medical cannabis dispensary to open in 2018…but as reported by WickedLocal.com, “Overall, he is optimistic.”
“Now that we are open and there’s been such a positive reception to us being there, we are extremely excited about the summer,” reflects Jonsson. “I think we fit in perfectly with the openness of Provincetown. Our being on Commercial Street adds to the character and experience of Provincetown and gives people yet another reason to visit.”
Curaleaf is located at 170 Commercial St., Provincetown. For more information, call 774-593-5952 or visit www.curaleaf.com