Community leaders in Leicester, Massachusetts, where one of the state’s two legal pot shops opened last week, called an emergency town meeting Monday night to address the customer traffic that’s flooding the small town and frustrating residents.
Legal marijuana sales in the state are already booming with the two stores reporting more than $2.2 million in sales – over 56,000 marijuana products – during their first five days of business. At Cultivate in Leicester, people line up outside hours before the shop even opens and cars jam the street outside.
Tensions ran high at Monday’s meeting where Leicester residents fumed over how the success of the Cultivate marijuana shop has turned their quiet neighborhood into busy shopping hub.
“We have cars outside our house 7 days a week, 12 hours a day,” one woman said. Added another, “I can’t even get out of my driveway! It took me 20 minutes to get out of my driveway today alone!”
“We did not anticipate the thousands of vehicles that come here on a daily basis,” said Leicester Police Chief James Hurley. He said customers can wait for hours in lines that wrap around the block. “We’re also getting what I call ‘cannabis tourism’ and there are hundreds of people coming out to see what’s going on and that adds pressure to the system.”
Representatives of Cultivate are working to address the concerns of the community and said they’ve already added 80 more parking spaces and extra police detail to keep traffic moving.
The store served about 1,000 customers on opening day and according to the Cannabis Control Commission, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the busiest for both locations in the state, reporting nearly $480,000 in gross sales.
Some residents like John Shoick came to show support for the financial benefits Cultivate brings to Leicester, a small town of 11,000 residents.
“I’m not saying this is going to be a cure-all solution, but this is what a small town like Leicester needs,” Shoick said. “The guy’s overly successful. You want to punish him for that. I’m sorry that’s just not the American way.”
The Leicester town manager told CBS News the police chief plans to institute emergency measures this weekend to make traffic more manageable.
There may be some additional relief in the coming months as recreational marijuana stores in Salem, Wareham, and Easthampton have all reportedly been issued final licenses from the state and hope to open soon.
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