mattapan could be next: dispensary clears major hurdle

“I am committed to setting a high bar in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion”

Clearing another hurdle on the rocky road to recreational cannabis, Verdant Medical gained approval from a city board last week and is now one step closer to opening a Mattapan dispensary. The result of an effort led in part by former Boston City Councilor and one-time mayoral candidate Tito Jackson, the news comes following a long process in which operators and local community members worked through concerns over traffic and all-around neighborhood impact.

A major accomplishment for Jackson and Verdant, it was also a landmark event for the Boston Cannabis Board, which voted unanimously to approve the Mattapan establishment. The board was formed last November to “[ensure] Boston is a model for how to create a system that fosters racial equity and inclusion in the new cannabis industry, and brings the benefit of this industry to all of Boston’s communities.”

“We made history,” Jackson wrote in a statement. “Verdant Medical became the first retail cannabis establishment in Boston’s history to receive approval from the Boston Cannabis Board. We were also the first Boston equity candidate to ever be approved.”

For their “help and guidance” and “work on this historic journey,” Jackson, who was named CEO of Verdant back in 2018, thanked the administration of Mayor Marty Walsh, City Councilor Kim Janey, who wrote the cannabis equity ordinance, District 5 Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, and Alexis Tkachuk, Boston’s director of emerging industries, among others.

The Boston Cannabis Board weighs applicants according to specific relevant criteria, with requirements to “state specific goals promoting equity for [all operating parties] including: attracting, contracting, hiring, promoting and retaining board members, contractors, executives and service providers.” Plans are expected to “promote equity across the identified demographic groups and throughout the operations of the business.” While “plans that fail to address the identified demographics and include equity goals throughout the business operations shall be scored accordingly.”

“I truly appreciate the support of the amazing Mattapan community and look forward to hiring from Mattapan, supporting businesses in Mattapan, and partnering with [Minority Business Enterprise] suppliers and social equity and economic empowerment participants,” Jackson added. “I am committed to setting a high bar in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. I’m committed to hiring, training and helping those who are formerly incarcerated start their own businesses. We must work to ensure those who were [locked] up are not locked out of the cannabis industry.”

As Dan Adams of the Boston Globe reported, “To open for business, the companies still need to negotiate a host community agreement with the administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh and receive approval from the Zoning Board of Appeal and state Cannabis Control Commission. Currently, just two recreational marijuana stores are open in Boston: Pure Oasis in Grove Hall and Berkshire Roots in East Boston.”

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