The first recreational marijuana store for the South Coast opened its doors to customers on Friday. It's the state's fourth recreational store, and it's the closest store for Cape Cod residents.
Located on Main Street in Wareham, the business is called Verilife, and is owned by one of the country's largest cannabis companies, PharmaCann.
Earlier this month in Massachusetts, recreational marjuana stores opened in Leicester, Northampton and Salem.
Rainy weather did not keep a crowd from showing up at the new Wareham store, located inside an old sea captain's house, though it was an orderly opening. Verilife, in watching previous recreational stores open, had tried to pre-empt a flood of people into the company's two-room store. Shelly Stormo, executive director of Verilife, said they had planned for offsite parking and shuttle buses ahead of time to keep crowds from having to stand outside for hours.
"Couple lessons learned, right," Stormo said. "We've engaged a parking company to manage everything external to our store, and we're basically mandating that every adult-use consumer park at an external parking lot."
She added that the store was doing its best to be a good neighbor to the city and to show people that they were a regular business like any other in town. Employees managed lines, took orders on iPads ahead of time, and gave out umbrellas and coupons to local restaurants and businesses.
Wareham resident Judson Rice was the first customer in the door, after getting up at 6 a.m. to line up for a shuttle bus to the dispensary.
"I hope it benefits either people are able to get what they want and maybe generate some revenue for the town," Rice said. "It’s been a long time coming, yeah."
And Dennis resident John Townsend said he hoped that the Wareham opening could help remove the stigma of marijuana for the Cape.
"Towns have said no, towns have zoned it and then said no, and you know, it’s really not, all that terrible," he said.
The store has the capacity to service about 20 people at a time, and officials said they will be capping lines at 600 people. Verilife will also be holding business hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.