Seagrass gets provisional license for downtown Salem retail marijuana store

RYAN MCBRIDE/Staff photoSeagrass, a planned recreational marijuana retailer on Dodge Street in Salem, is doing some exterior work as it prepares to potentially open later this year. The company received its provisional license from the state on Thursday. 

SALEM — Seagrass, a planned retail marijuana shop on Dodge Street, was awarded a provisional license from the Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday, prompting the shop’s owners to begin interior construction and other preparations ahead of starting sales later this year.

Seagrass is one of the city’s three remaining recreational marijuana proposals. The other two still have no activity to report, as the Cannabis Control Commission gradually churns through applications.

“It has been a long-time coming. We submitted our application in January last year, and the process took almost a full year due to the backlog of applications,” said Seagrass CEO Chip Tuttle. “Now, it’s all systems go, and we’re moving to the next phase of the process.” 

There are currently two retailers open in Salem — I.N.S.A. at 462 Highland Ave., and Alternative Therapies Group at 50 Grove St. The latter was the third to open in Massachusetts after launching retail sales in late 2018.

The provisional license still leaves a couple big hurdles for a business to cross in order to begin sales. Companies must also secure a final license and, in the weeks following that, an order from the state to commence operations. Sales then typically begin within a few days of that final order from the state.

The wait between a provisional and final license can take months. For example, I.N.S.A. received its provisional license last July and didn’t start selling recreational marijuana products until early November. 

Atlantic Medicinal Partners, planned for the Ace Hardware building at 297 Highland Ave., received a provisional license last April but still hasn’t received a final license from the state. There are no further updates on the company’s progress, according to Salem police Capt. Fred Ryan.

Seagrass, once it opens, will be a different kind of retailer for Salem’s pedestrian-heavy downtown, but Ryan said the company has already delivered on a solid security plan.

“The good thing, obviously, is we have two in town now,” Ryan said. “We’ve gone through the procedure of it, the security side of it. I was involved when we were vetting some of the companies, and Seagrass was one of the top companies from our standpoint. They had their security plans all set, and they were as good as the other ones — if not better.”

There is still one Salem business vying for a provisional license: Witch City Gardens, which aims to open both retail operations and cultivation on Jefferson Avenue.

“We haven’t received any updates ourselves from the Cannabis Control Commission,” said Tim Haigh, the company’s chief operating officer. “The end of last year, we responded to an RFI (request for information). It has been a number of weeks without a response from them, so we’re hopeful to receive a provisional within the next couple months.”

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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