HAVERHILL — The city’s third retail marijuana shop is preparing to open near the Plaistow line along Route 125.
Full Harvest Moonz at 95 Plaistow Road will welcome customers later this month, said owner Janet Kupris, who received her final license from the state Cannabis Control Commission on Jan 14.
Full Harvest Moonz was the first cannabis dispensary to receive a special permit from the City Council — that approval coming in June 2019. Kupris, who lives in Weymouth, received the permit after a 7-1 vote. Councilor Joseph Bevilacqua was the lone dissenting vote, while Councilor Michael McGonagle abstained due to a conflict of interest. Up until last week, McGonagle was landlord of the former Seafood Etc. restaurant building on Amesbury Road where a local group known as Mellow Fellows plans to open a cannabis shop. McGonagle sold the property for $1.35 million on Jan. 20.
Since Kupris received the special permit for her shop from the City Council, she has been joined by business partner Michaela Ristuccia, who serves as company president of Full Harvest Moonz.
A former dental hygienist, Ristuccia said she left her career in health care shortly after she began volunteering at Sanctuary Medicinals marijuana shop in New Hampshire in 2016. Ristuccia said she and Kupris met at the Sactuary Medicinals cultivation facility and decided to branch out and open their own shop.
Ristuccia said she hopes locals are attracted to Full Harvest Moonz by the background she and Kupris share of appreciating the healing and holistic properties of cannabis.
"Janet has a big background in holistic health and I’m also a Reiki master,'' Ristuccia said. "We both believe cannabis is a healing tool and we’re really excited to bring those spiritual, holistic elements into the space.''
Reiki is a form of alternative therapy commonly known as energy healing. It comes from the Far East and is said to involve the transfer of energy from a practitioner’s palms to their patient.
Shoppers at Full Harvest can expect to learn much about cannabis when shopping there, Kupris said, explaining the shop's staff will strive to make sure customers are choosing the product that is right for them.
"Whenever I meet someone who finds I’m in the cannabis industry, the first thing they’ll tell me is 'so-and-so gave me a gummy,''' Kupris said.
"The first thing I ask is how many milligrams it is. They’ll have no idea,” she said, referring to the key ingredient of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in any particular product. “It’s really important that people understand cannabis and the dosages and the method of delivery. That’s going to be at the forefront of what we pride ourselves on.”
Two other retail marijuana shops are open in Haverhill. In May 2020, a shop named Stem at 124 Washington St., was the first to open. The second shop to open was CNA Stores at 558 River St., which began operating in November. The City Council has also granted a permit to the Mellow Fellows shop to open on Amesbury Road, but that business is waiting for its final state license approval.
Up to six marijuana shop licenses may be granted in Haverhill. According to state law, the number of licenses in a community is based on a percentage of the number of package stores it has.