SALEM — The city's second recreational marijuana shop could be days away from opening on Highland Avenue.
I.N.S.A., a retail sales shop that has built out in the old Meineke building at 462 Highland Ave., is on the Cannabis Control Commission's agenda for Oct. 10 to possibly get a final license from the state.
The license, according to materials prepared for the meeting, would be subject to a final inspection. If approved, the business will be able to "possess and otherwise acquire marijuana, but shall not dispense, sell or otherwise transport marijuana" until getting an order from the state to commence operations.
"The timeline is still a little unclear," said Mark Zatyrka, CEO for I.N.S.A., on Tuesday. "We're hopeful that we'll be able to open in the near future, possibly early next week, but it could be a few more weeks."
Alternative Therapies Group, which is the only recreational marijuana retailer in the region with a storefront on Grove Street in Salem and one in Salisbury, had about a month elapse between when it got a final license last November and when it finally began retail sales in Salem.
ATG was the third retailer statewide to start selling recreational cannabis, and since then several others have opened around the state — but none near Salem, making I.N.S.A. the first true competition for ATG since it began sales 10 months ago.
The opening comes at a tricky time for both the business and Salem. As October tourism slowly approaches its peak in the Witch City, pot retailers are also seeing diminished sales due to the governor's ongoing vaping and e-cigarette ban. The ban prohibits pot retailers from selling THC-infused vaping cartridges, and some shops have also stopped selling the battery devices that the cartridges connect to, until the ban is ended early or expires in late January.
The Cannabis Control Commission meeting Thursday will play out as Mederi and the city of Salem head back to court on a lawsuit that Mederi filed after it was rebuffed by the city for its retail pot proposal. That hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Lawrence Superior Court.