Chicopee business owner stalled by vaping crisis, COVID-19 as he works to open marijuana store –

CHICOPEE — When Jim Robinson opened his vape store five years ago, his goal was to expand into a retail cannabis store once marijuana was legalized.

After slogging through the state application process and facing multiple setbacks over the past two years, Robinson is now taking his last steps to opening by seeking a special permit from the city for JimBuddy’s Rec Shop on Memorial Drive.

Robinson appeared before the City Council’s zoning committee Wednesday. But the board postponed the vote and recommended he withdraw his application temporarily, until a traffic study is completed and his landlord resolves violations on the property’s parking lot.

“It would behoove the property owner to fix this issue to allow a possible tenant to move forward with permitting for their store,” City Planner Lee Pouliot said.

The property otherwise meets local requirements for a recreational marijuana license. Because the parking lot is small, Robinson said, he has leased 25 parking spaces from the neighboring Masse’s Seafood for staff and overflow customers.

Robinson said he also has gone “above and beyond” all security requirements including agreeing to hire off-duty police Thursday through Sunday.

If everything goes smoothly over the next few months and Robinson can receive a special use permit and final license from the state, he said he hopes to be able to sell his first cannabis products in early 2021.

Provided the permits are granted, the store will be the third recreational marijuana facility in the city. The other two are Mass Alternative Care on East Main Street and Theory Wellness on Fuller Road, according to state records.

“It will be a small boutique shop,” Robinson said. “We will use our experience to teach customers how it affects the body, about the potency levels, and we will educate you on different uses.”


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