NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Affinity Health and Wellness on Whalley Avenue in New Haven is ready to sell adult-use marijuana to customers when it becomes legal to do so on Tuesday.
The business is expecting long lines for the first couple of weeks, but it has made changes to make the process as smooth as possible.
Affinity has been selling medical marijuana for three years. It expects its client base to jump when recreational sales start this week.
“The last six weeks have been really busy,” said Ray Pantalena, the managing partner of Affinity Health and Wellness. “We’ve done some remodeling inside to accommodate the extra business.”
It has hired 20 additional staff members, purchased three more registers and boosted security to handle the high demand. The 20 new hires are all from New Haven.
“The city has been very positive towards us, and we want to do everything we can to give back,” Pantalena said.
This is one of the nine approved and licensed hybrid cannabis retailers in the state.
At Affinity, customers will have to place a pre-order online and then will join a queue outside the dispensary when they come to pick up. Everyone has to get buzzed into the building and check in by showing a government ID to prove they are at least 21 years old. Then, they can pick up their order.
“Staff at Affinity are still prioritizing their medical patients, these two windows are here just for them, and all the adult use clients will be directed to these windows,” Pantalena said. “The medical patients are what the programs been built on. Seven years they’ve been patients in this state, they have conditions that cannabis has helped them with, and we have to make sure we can continue their care.”
Medical patients won’t have to wait in line. The state rules say they can purchase up to five ounces of cannabis per month. Recreational customers can only buy a quarter ounce, for now.
“As the program rolls out, as they can see how much production the licensed producers and growers can do, they’re probably going to raise it,” Pantalena said.
Monday, Zen Leaf in Meriden was preparing for the crowds.
“It’s part of history, and this is going to be the place to be,” said Vinny Bucchieri, the general manager and pharmacist at Zen Leaf.
The business is offering 20 different cannabis products on a live menu that will change as items sell out. He suggests coming in with an idea of what to buy, and to use cash for smoother transactions.
He said that prices are about $50 for 3.5 grams of product, with a 20% tax.
Officials are urging consumers to use cannabis responsibly. It’s suggested to use it in a safe place, to not use it while driving, to start with a low amount and then to not use too much at once.