SPRINGFIELD — For local residents suffering from chronic illnesses, the long wait is over for a medical marijuana dispensary in Hampden County intended to provide some relief.
INSA Inc., opened for business on Friday at its new location on Cottage Street in East Springfield, receiving well wishes and applause from the first gathered patients and local and state officials.
“We feel great about today, finally being open after all these years,” said Mark Zatyrka, INSA’s chief executive officer. “Springfield is my home city so it feels wonderful to be able to give back to the city. To finally be open feels wonderful that patients no longer have to travel long distances to get their medication.”
INSA employs approximately 70 people at its dispensaries in Easthampton and Springfield, including about 20 employees at the Cottage Street site, Zatyrka said.
Christopher Higgins, a resident of Springfield, was among the first patients waiting for the dispensary to open.
“I’m actually really excited that they are opening up,” Higgins said. “I’ve been to their Easthampton dispensary. It’s a very good place, nice people. They’re all about the patients. I think it’s an excellent thing what we’re doing here.”
Those present for the grand opening included Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen R. Caulton Harris, and state Reps. Brian Ashe and Thomas M. Petrolati.
The Springfield dispensary officially opened at 11 a.m., and is open seven days a week.
In November of 2012, Massachusetts voters approved a law to allow medical marijuana facilities, permitting no more than five facilities in each county.
The review and approval of the Springfield dispensary began more than two years ago, with City Council approval in November of 2016 after a host community agreement was reached between the company, then known as Hampden Care Facility, and