The Heirloom Collective opens Hadley dispensary

  • The Heirloom Collective, which has a growing facility in Bernardston, opened its marijuana dispensary on Route 9 in Hadley on April 17. Staff Photo/Jerrey Roberts

Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2020 2:06:06 PM

HADLEY — Having gotten its growing facility up and running in Bernardston in 2018, The Heirloom Collective has opened its connected dispensary on Route 9 in Hadley for medical marijuana sales.

The Heirloom Collective President and CEO Jim Counihan said the business had been completing the final steps in the medical licensing process in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. After holding discussions with the town of Hadley and the Cannabis Control Commission, Counihan said the company decided to delay its opening to see what safety guidelines would be enacted.

Then, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order preventing the sale of recreational marijuana, which has been extended through May 18. Sales to medical marijuana patients are still permitted, albeit with strict guidelines from both Baker and the Cannabis Control Commission regarding operations, sanitation and product pick-up.

“With that in place, we decided to open on April 17,” Counihan explained.

Counihan joked The Heirloom Collective “may be the only ones crazy enough to try to open during the pandemic.” But while customer traffic at the 457 Russell St. location is not as great as it would be if the company could sell recreational marijuana, too, he said the dispensary has seen decent business in medical marijuana over the last two weeks.

“We’ve seen what I would call steady numbers during the pandemic,” he said.

The pandemic has also led to a spike in Massachusetts medical marijuana registrations. According to The Boston Globe, Cannabis Control Commission data revealed 7,235 new patients obtained a doctor’s recommendation and registered with the state’s medical marijuana program between March 23 and April 21 — a 245 percent increase over the 2,097 new patients who registered from Feb. 23 to March 22.

The Hadley dispensary currently services patients through online orders and curbside pickup. Counihan said very few patients and customers are actually entering the building. The main retail floor is closed, but the dispensary is allowing patients to request and schedule a one-on-one consultation, as is required by Cannabis Control Commission regulations.

Because The Heirloom Collective and other local dispensaries are “early to the market,” Counihan said they do not consider each other competitors, but rather “pioneers establishing the industry.” He said the company aims to meet the needs of new patients, or provide a new experience for existing patients.

“Our goal is to build a great patient experience,” Counihan said. “While patients have choices in the market, hopefully they are willing to come back to us.”

Right now there are only five employees, but Counihan said the company plans to hire up to 15 people for the location once things “return to normal” and customer traffic increases. The Heirloom Collective has also employed an outside contractor to oversee security and traffic on the premises.

“We have most of the same products as others, but we are really proud of the quality of our flower,” Counihan said.

Counihan said The Heirloom Collective takes a “gently grown philosophy” to its production of marijuana flower. According to its website, the company’s use of climate and irrigation automation allows its cultivation team to give the needed individual attention to each marijuana strain’s ideal growth plan. Their cultivation technique does not use pesticides and focuses on optimal climate and microbial root environment to maintain plant health.

Once the cultivation facility was established on Route 10 in Bernardston, The Heirloom Collective started growing its first rounds of marijuana flower in December of 2018, Counihan said. The facility is now fully functioning and employs 42 people. Counihan said the company has not laid off employees amid the pandemic in part because some staff members asked to be furloughed.

The Heirloom Collective had to reschedule a final licensing inspection required to earn its recreational marijuana license due to the pandemic. Counihan hopes the company will be fully licensed by the end of the year, but that will depend on how much time it takes for business to return to normal after the pandemic subsides.

“We just don’t know what effect the pandemic will have on the Cannabis Control Commission’s timeline,” he said.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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