Mashpee Gears Up for Arrival of Marijuana Dispensary

Apr 7, 2014

This vacant lot on Echo Road in Mashpee is the planned site for a new marijuana dispensary.

95 Echo Road looks ordinary – just another undeveloped lot in the industrial part of Mashpee, where gravel-filled trucks rattle by and small planes from the nearby air force base buzz overhead.  

"It’s just a flat piece of land," said Ron Gangemi, owner of the property." 44,000 square feet. Industrial land, beautiful-looking land -- trees, typical Cape Cod lot."

But things are about to change. Gangemi recently leased his land to Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, the company that plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary here this summer. The dispensary is one of 20 awarded licenses throughout the state, and one of two in Barnstable County.

"Everyone’s pretty excited about it in the town, from what I hear," Gangemi said. "I think they’re all on board.

Since January, when the state granted Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts a permit to open up a Mashpee dispensary, town officials and local businesses alike have been gearing up for its arrival.

Just down the road at the Mashpee Country Store, they’ve stopped using a large glass display case for deli meats, and instead stocked it with glass-blown marijuana pipes and colorful bonds. The store had no comment. But at town hall, officials are talking about potential tax revenue. And at the police station, Chief Rodney Collins says he’s been  meeting with Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts representatives to make sure the facility is highly secure, complete with gates, fencing, cameras, a guardhouse, and armed personnel.

About a half-mile from the marijuana dispensary's location, the Mashpee Country Store has replaced the cold cuts in its deli case with a variety of pipes and bongs. A store employee refused to comment.

"The police department’s involvement," Collins said, "is to ensure that there is compliance with the law and that is to prevent diversion -- diversion of the marijuana. We don’t want it to go to a person that it’s not supposed to be in the hands of."

All of this is new to Mashpee. Massachusetts voted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2012, becoming the 18th of 20 states to do so. But recreational marijuana remains illegal, creating all sorts of logistical challenges as the state moves to approve dispensaries and get them open. Still, this doesn’t intimidate Mashpee selectman John Cahalane.

"It’s no different from any other business coming into the town at this point," Cahalane said.

But what does Mashpee get out of having a dispensary in town? As town manager Joyce Mason points out, the dispensary will bring in some new property tax revenue.

"We do know we will gain on the tax side," Mason said, "because there is not a structure on this lot at this point, so that will improve the value in terms of property taxes are concerned."

Just how much new tax revenue the dispensary building will bring to town is still unclear. But Mason says there’s a possibility that Mashpee could get even more revenue from the dispensary beyond property taxes.

"Other communities are working out these pilot-agreements that they would receive some sort of financial commitment from the dispensary itself," she said.

With its dispensary license in hand, Mason says the next step for Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts is having its site plan approved by the town’s building inspector.

"They have not filed for any of their permitting yet locally," she said. "They will have to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals."

Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts was expected to have its permitting completed  by now, but property owner Ron Gangemi says he’s not concerned.

"It’s gonna probably be moving pretty quick once they get the plans," he said."

If Gangemi’s right, by this summer, 95 Echo Road may no longer be just a vacant sandy lot covered with pitch pines. Instead, in its place will be a highly secured, brand-new, medical marijuana dispensary – the first of its kind.