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Salem marijuana shop closed to recreational customers until further notice

Customers lined up outside Alternative Therapies Group’s dispensary in Salem in December.
Customers lined up outside Alternative Therapies Group’s dispensary in Salem in December.(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)

Customers seeking to buy recreational marijuana products at a Salem dispensary are out of luck for now.

Alternative Therapies Group in Salem, which opened in December and is the closest recreational store to Boston, announced Wednesday that it cannot serve recreational customers until further notice but will continue to serve medical patients.

The announcement marks the first time any of the nine recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts have halted recreational sales after opening to customers.

The reason for the problem seemed to be in dispute.

In a note on its website, the dispensary said its inventory data had become “corrupted in the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system,” a mandatory real-time tracker that requires establishments to record the testing, transportation, and transaction of all marijuana products in the state. The issue would keep the company from transferring any recreational products from its cultivation and manufacturing facility to its dispensary.

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The store also said that it is out of stock on the marijuana flower — the green, leafy buds most commonly used for smoking — but didn’t explain whether the two problems were related.

According to the store, the state Cannabis Control Commission is working to “correct the problem” with the system.

But the commission says there was never a problem to begin with. “The Commonwealth’s mandatory seed-to-sale tracking technology, Metrc, remains fully functional,” the commission’s executive director, Shawn Collins, said in an e-mailed statement.

The commission said the tracking system has been working as expected, and “challenges” have only been experienced at the Salem dispensary.

“Alternative Therapies Group’s adult-use supply issues are the result of improper inventory management practices and the challenges are limited to their operations,” Collins said.

The commission continues to inspect dispensaries to ensure they are correctly uploading their inventory, and stores may not be allowed to sell certain products if they fail to do so.

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“The Cannabis Control Commission remains confident in the tracking system’s ability to detect discrepancies in the data, which licensees upload, that signal when potential public health and safety risks may exist,” Collins said. “To prevent diversion, the sale of contaminated products, and other issues, Commission investigators will continue to regularly inspect marijuana establishments to ensure they tag, upload, and trace all inventory correctly.”

The move comes one day after the Salem dispensary had announced that it would temporarily halt sales of marijuana flower because of the “technical glitch” with the seed-to-sale system.

The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week.

It has been an appointment-only dispensary since opening in December. As of December, edibles and topicals were only available to medical patients.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.