New Massachusetts pot shop prompts officials to heighten security measures

New Massachusetts pot shop prompts officials to heighten security measures

Yet public records show minimal criminal activity around existing medical dispensaries

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

Cannabis users in Massachusetts have a new place to shop for their Smoochy Woochy Poochie.

Large crowds arrived at Salem’s Alternative Therapies Group last Saturday as it opened its doors to recreational marijuana sales. Increased security and police activity is expected in the area, yet crime incident reports obtained by MuckRock point to a history of minimal criminal activity around current medical marijuana dispensaries and future retailers.

A handful of police departments have yet to respond to MuckRock’s records request, including Salem Police Department, but those that provided records show minor incidents at dispensaries, if any, over the last couple of months. Nonetheless, the City of Salem says it is “approaching this event similar to how it approaches large scale event planning and logistics in general.”

“The City has been actively coordinating for the last few weeks with ATG, Peabody Police, and the MBTA transit police in order to prepare for the upcoming opening of ATG for recreational marijuana sales,” announced a press release issued last week. “These efforts have included Salem Police, the Fire Department, the Mayor’s office, Traffic and Parking, Public Works, the Health Department, and the Building Department.”

Additionally, ATG is requiring all recreational patients to make an appointment on their website prior to arriving in order to regulate demand for the weekend.

Salem’s security measures mainly deal with high traffic in the densely populated area, but MuckRock’s public records requests to 31 law enforcement agencies overseeing medical dispensaries and future locations of dispensaries prove criminal activity hasn’t been an issue in recent weeks.

The majority of records look at incidents within the last couple of months and show standard building checks, false alarms triggered, and motor vehicle violations in the vicinity, to name a few. According to the Cannabis Control Commission, Curaleaf was granted a provisional license this year, which was also a part of our records request.


ATG joins Cultivate Holdings in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton as the third marijuana dispensary to open up its doors to recreational sales this year. Cultivate Holdings saw a quiet couple of months this year, with only one motor vehicle accident reported on their intersection this past summer.

However, in November, NETA made a call to the Northampton Police Department to report an incident involving a man and cardboard signs he left at the business reading “MA$$ GOV IS DRUG DEALER” among other phrases.


The suspect left the cardboard signs, along with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a pack of cigarettes against the front of the building and proceeded to leave the area. Through NETA surveillance footage, police were able to obtain a license plate number for the suspect, but NPD was unable to make contact with the suspect.

Following that incident, NPD has only returned to the business after several false alarms were triggered. NETA did not wish to comment on the incident but said “the safety and security of our patients, customers and employees will always be our top priority.”

ATG has prepared their operations for this weekends crowds, according to records on the Cannabis Control Commission’s website. All visitors are required to present a valid I.D at the door.


Additionally, the dispensary is equipped with panic alarms, burglary and fire alarms as well as a 24-hour camera system in addition to their security officers on site.

INSA in Easthampton and PharmaCannis in Wareham have also received final retail licenses and are awaiting final approval from the state’s Department of Public Health.

Browse the full list of reports via the link below.

Image by My 420 Tours via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0