DORCHESTER — When the recreational use of marijuana was first legalized in Massachusetts in 2016, very few entrepreneurs looking to establish themselves in the legal cannabis industry could have expected the amount of legal and regulatory policies that resulted from a ten-year campaign on behalf of voters, advocacy groups and retailers.
Today, there are approximately three dozen dispensaries currently operating in the state with the exception of the City of Boston. That could change as soon as March.
On Thursday, Dorchester’s Pure Oasis received final approval from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission to operate a planned dispensary on Blue Hill Avenue, becoming the first legal marijuana retailer in the history of Boston.
"It's been a very long road. So, you know, to finally see daylight is beyond ecstatic," said Pure Oasis co-founder Kobie Evans. "I don't even know if we have words for where we're at emotionally about being at this point. We're excited."
While the approval is contingent on an expected commencement notice from the commission, the shop is also the first applicant in the CCC’s Economic Empowerment Program, an initiative designed to promote entrepreneurship and economic growth in urban communities where marijuana prohibition has had the greatest negative impact.
"We're very happy that Boston will be the first place for an economic empowerment designee," said Alexis Tkachuk, the City’s Director of Emerging Industries.
The approval comes just months after Mayor Marty Walsh signed an ordinance aimed at establishing greater transparency and prioritization for local minority entrepreneurs seeking to establish themselves in the estimated $12 billion legal cannabis industry.
“It’s worth noting that the commission has to prioritize economic empowerment applicants, but cities and towns do not,” said CCC Commissioner Shaleen Title during Thursday’s proceedings. “So I want to acknowledge the city of Boston for voluntarily having a long-term vision and implementing it, and taking this step toward equity and fairness.”
"We wanted to be the next generation of trailblazers to provide an example to the residents of the neighborhood, to the young people, to the budding entrepreneurs, that, you know, these things are possible," said Evans.
Image via Wikimedia Commons