WELLFLEET — For the past month, since the Cape Cod Cannabis dispensary opened its doors at the old South Wellfleet General Store on April 20, Allan Kronfeld, the manager of the store, has been getting phone calls from confused customers. They can’t find the store. They’re pretty sure that they’re at the right address — 1446 State Highway Route 6 — but Cape Cod Cannabis is nowhere to be seen.
In fact, they’re usually standing right outside the store, said Kronfeld. There’s just no way for them to know that. The special permit that the Wellfleet Zoning Board of Appeals granted Cape Cod Cannabis last June stipulated that signs for the store could not include the words “cannabis” or “marijuana,” or any “similar language that would identify the type of facility or nature of business carried on therein,” which is a little like telling a pharmacy that it can’t put up a sign that says “drug store.”
Add to the language prohibition the requirement that the store’s windows be covered with tinted film — a rule imposed on all marijuana businesses in Massachusetts — and it’s no wonder people are lost, even when they’re just a few feet away from Cape Cod Cannabis. In fact, the only sign on its storefront is, oddly, a bright blue illustration of a whale tale.
“People usually think it’s a whale watching store,” Kronfeld said.
Cape Cod Cannabis is the first retail marijuana store to open in Wellfleet. The Piping Plover, which is expected to open on May 21 at 10 Main St., and Terps, also expected to open later this month right next to the Dunkin’ doughnut shop, have both erected signs with the word “cannabis” prominently displayed. Cape Cod Cannabis is the one exception.
It appears that the reason for the anomaly might be, mainly, taste. “The main reason,” said Sharon Inger, chair of the zoning board, of Cape Cod Cannabis’s unusual situation, “is that neighbors were very much not happy about the design for the store’s sign.”
The sign for Cape Cod Cannabis — which appears inside the store, on the store’s website, and on its social media accounts, but not on the storefront — is a takeoff on the bookleaf-shaped town entrance signs that dot the state.
“I’m very deeply offended by this logo,” said Kathleen Bacon, a former Wellfleet selectwoman, during public comment at a March 2020 zoning board hearing. “It’s like ‘Welcome to Cape Cod. Here’s the cannabis.’ Right there on the highway we have a sign that says, ‘Welcome to Wellfleet’ and that’s what you’re mimicking.”
Bacon also said at that 2020 meeting that, in the time since the select board had granted Cape Cod Cannabis its host community agreement, much of its corporate structure had changed. She singled out Kronfeld: “This young man here, you’ve got an accent. Where are you from?”
Kronfeld replied that he was born in New York but grew up in Russia.
“You’re Russian. Mmm-hmm,” Bacon said, arms folded across her chest. “You’ve got a Russian accent. Interesting.”
Cape Cod Cannabis is, at 4,000 square feet, the largest cannabis facility on the Cape. The shop is owned by Simon Baker, who is based in Florida. This is Baker’s first cannabis shop.
“Simon was here for the opening,” Kronfeld said. “But now he’s back in Florida.”
Kronfeld, likewise, is from Florida but moved to the Cape for his job. When asked where on Cape he was living, Kronfeld said, “I think it’s around Dennis Port.”
Inger said that the zoning board hearings for Cape Cod Cannabis were unusually “contentious.” Many citizens came to a March 2020 session to speak out against the store, primarily on the grounds that the location was too close to a school bus stop and the entrance to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, where many children play.
Some also felt that the cannabis shop would ruin the character of the area.
“I don’t need a high from marijuana,” said Barbara Kennedy, who lives in Wellfleet center. “I get my high from living in the beautiful village of Wellfleet.”
The main problem, from the zoning board’s perspective, was traffic. Inger said that, to mitigate this problem, Cape Cod Cannabis “volunteered” to have customers come to the store by appointment only, which would allow a greater degree of control over how many people were turning off the highway and into the dispensary’s parking area at any one time. Kronfeld, however, said that the town “required” them to have the appointment-only setup. In any case, the policy was specified in the special permit conditions and appointment-only operation is required of the business during its first six months.
So far, signs and appointments aside, all is going well for Cape Cod Cannabis. Only a month after opening, Kronfeld said, they already have a lot of returning customers, many of whom are happy that they no longer have to drive all the way to Provincetown to get their hands on the good stuff.
Right now, the store employs 14 people, all of them local, who have “high expertise in cannabis,” said Kronfeld. In a month, when the summer season kicks into high gear, the number of employees at the shop will double.
And, by that point, it’s possible that Cape Cod Cannabis will be allowed to identify itself as such. Inger told the Independent that, in the time since the special permit was granted, Massachusetts has altered its regulations to explicitly provide that cannabis dispensaries are allowed to use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana” on their storefronts. Before that, the state had not said anything about the issue one way or the other.
“I expect we’ll hear from Cape Cod Cannabis soon about updating their permit,” said Inger.