FALL RIVER — Local retail marijuana businesses are not immune to the supply chain bottleneck.
Both Westport attorney Brian Corey and attorney and former Fall River mayor Will Flanagan say delayed deliveries of supplies and materials needed to build and construct retail and cultivation facilities have been a problem in recent months.
“There have been supply chain issues for my clients,” said Corey, who represents both a Westport retail operation that has yet to open and a “vertically integrated” grow-and-sell business on Airport Road in Fall River — located inside the former BK’s Beacon Tavern, the latter of which is known as Aura Cannabis LLC.
Flanagan is one of three partners in a venture known as called Cosmopolitan Dispensary.
That business will occupy and utilize most of a three-story building at 82 Hartwell St. that once was home to the former Salter College and originally was built by Edison Illuminating Company, now known as Consolidated Edison, or Con Ed for short.
He says supply chain problems have delayed the opening of Cosmopolitan Dispensary by 10 weeks.
Construction, he said, of what he describes as a “chic” retail customer and display room, in addition to a security system and other rooms, is now 85% complete.
Flanagan said he anticipates a grand opening by April 1.
He and his partners, one of whom owns a marijuana business in Brockton, also intend by the end of 2022 to begin growing pot plants, as part of their vertically integrated business model, on the top floors of the Hartwell Street building.
The number of applicants that have been granted HCAs
In addition to those two future pot entities, another eight marijuana-oriented applications are on file in the city’s law department, according to corporation counsel Alan Rumsey.
All eight have received host community agreements with the city.
The number of retail businesses in Fall River continues to stand at three. There’s also a cultivation growing operation with no retail sale component in the BioPark adjacent the Amazon distribution center.
Application process placed on hold
Rumsey said the city has been especially cautious in how it handles applications ever since former mayor Jasiel Correia was indicted, convicted and sentenced for extorting kickback payments from potential retail marijuana entrepreneurs.
Rumsey points to the example of a local couple whose lawyer in October accused the city of illegality in how it handles the application process.
In that case, Rumsey refunded a $2,500 application fee required as part of the host community agreement process to applicants Joseph and Stephanie Merkt.
Rumsey, in his letter to the Merkts, said that he decided to temporarily suspend the acceptance of marijuana applications “pending a full review of our process.”
The $2,500 fee, Rumsey said, is part of a one-time fee of $50,000 for applicants who qualify and receive a final license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.
In his letter to the Merkt couple, he said the city’s internal review will take approximately 90 days to complete and that they will be notified as soon as the application process has been reinstituted.
“We may never have another one,” Rumsey said, referring to future applications, during a recent interview in his Government Center office.
He pointed out that Fall River has already exceeded the minimum number of marijuana businesses that must be allowed in any Bay State municipality based on a ratio of 20% of the number of existing liquor stores.
Rumsey also said he rejects the argument of the Merkts’ attorney Blake Mensing that the host community agreement process under the administration of Mayor Paul Coogan was in any way illegitimate.
“I’m convinced it is perfectly legal,” he said.
Pot shops now doing business
The number of retail marijuana businesses currently in operation in Fall River still stands at three.
The oldest of the three is Northeast Alternatives on William S. Canning Boulevard near the Fall River and Tiverton line.
It first opened in 2018 as a medical marijuana dispensary and began selling adult retail products in 2019.
The other two include Sunnyside Cannabis on West Street and Nature’s Medicines on Globe Street.
Ideal Fall River location
Flanagan said he his partners are investing $400,000 as part of “a complete build-out” of the Hartwell Street building, for which he says they have a lease-to-buy agreement, and another $750,000 on equipment, supplies and inventory.
In addition to growing high-grade cannabis, he says they will also manufacture THC-infused products such as brownies, candies, lotions, balms and soda.
He said he has just signed an agreement with a Tyngsborough candy manufacturer for a cannabis-infused chocolate and peanut butter bar called the Flanagan Bar.
Flanagan said he couldn’t ask for a better location for his new business.
Standing in the rear of the building, he pointed to the steady stream of traffic on nearby I-195.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Sometimes I just stare at the traffic. It’s inspiring.”
Charles Winokoor may be reached at email@example.com. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today.