Insa in the News

Salem signs final retail pot deal

Victor Juri   January 21, 2019  

SALEM — The city has inked its fifth and final host agreement for a recreational pot shop, with I.N.S.A. on Highland Avenue.

Four Salem businesses are now awaiting licenses from the state's Cannabis Control Commission.

City Mayor Kim Driscoll informed the City Council late Thursday afternoon that the host agreement with I.N.S.A. had been finalized. The shop is set to open at 462 Highland Ave., just past Walmart by the Lynn line.

As part of its host agreement, I.N.S.A. must donate at least $30,000 to charities "to be determined by I.N.S.A. in its reasonable discretion." It will also donate 6 percent of sales — 3 percent as part of the "Community Impact Fee" seen across all other agreements struck so far — and an added 1 percent for the Transit Enhancement Fund.

I.N.S.A. has already opened a retail marijuana shop in Easthampton and runs a medical dispensary in Springfield.

The decision shows the door to NS Alternatives, a proposal that had planned to open at 207 Highland Ave.

In all, four retail pot shops received zoning approval in Salem but were denied host agreements. One of them, Mederi — targeting 250 Highland Ave. — has filed a suit against the city to stop its efforts to issue host agreements, arguing that the city doesn't have the power to decide who will get licenses to operate in the city. A hearing in the case is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in Salem Superior Court.  

I.N.S.A. joins Atlantic Medical Partners, at 297 Highland Ave. by IHOP and PetSmart, as the two businesses to get deals on Highland Avenue. Six shops had originally applied to open along that stretch, prompting concerns from residents and city officials. 

In an email Thursday to the City Council, Driscoll thanked councilors for their patience over the last several months.

"This is the beginning of a new industry in our community," she wrote, "and I'm grateful for your partnership and that of city staff. Many other communities have yet to finalize a process, let alone enter into Host Community Agreements. Together, we have ensured that the evaluation of applicants was professional, fair and objective, and that the start of operations has been well managed and without incident."

Elsewhere in the city, Seagrass at 3 Dodge St. and Witch City Gardens at 38 Jefferson Ave. have also been given host agreements. Alternative Therapies Group, the first to get a license, opened its doors to retail sales on Dec. 15.