EDITOR’S NOTE: NJ Cannabis Insider is hosting an in-person day-long conference and networking event Sept. 15 at the Carteret Performing Arts Center, featuring many of the state’s leading power players. Early-bird tickets now on sale.
When legal weed dispensaries wanted to set up shop in Easthampton, Massachusetts, local officials worried about increased crime, kids smoking weed and property values falling.
But none of the stereotypical nightmares came true.
“We have not seen one of those things,” said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “Our view of this was very much influenced by our fears and something so new. It certainly influenced the ordinance. It also reflected public opinion.”
Instead, the Western Massachusetts town of some 16,000 people saw rents and revenues rise — along with its time commitment to getting the dispensaries up and running. Four have opened there so far.
“There’s a perception of what this is going to look like in a town, and the reality is really different,” said Steve Reilly, an owner of INSA, a marijuana company that opened in Easthampton.
Massachusetts residents voted to legalize marijuana in 2016. It took two years for the first dispensaries to open, with Easthampton seeing sales for those 21 and older by late 2018. They were the first