Community meeting displays public concern over proposed Allston marijuana dispensary

A community meeting about the latest proposed marijuana establishment in Allston showed public apprehension over the project.

Representatives of Union Twist Cannabis, the group behind the establishment, took the floor on February 6th to present the plan for their dispensary, which they hope to see open on 259 Cambridge Street within the next year.

The meeting gave local residents the opportunity to vocalize their thoughts and suggestions on the establishment before it is finalized and taken to the Zoning Board of Appeals for approval to begin work at the site.

The potential opening of another legal marijuana dispensary follows after Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of the drug in the 2016 presidential election by a vote of 53.7% to 46.3%.

Marie St. Fleur, a former State Representative for Massachusetts and former Assistant District Attorney, is one of the key people behind the launch of this dispensary and is the joint CEO of Union Twist Cannabis alongside business partner Amy McNamee.

St. Fleur told the audience: “The reality is that this law has passed, and many of us are also committed to making certain that when it’s implemented, that it actually is executed the way that is intended.”

These words seemed to fall short for the audience, however, as the proposal was met mostly with concern following the twenty-minute presentation.

Issues such as how the establishment will impact the neighborhood, how it will be funded and the security of it all were raised throughout the two-hour meeting. However, it was the issue of a car park that dominated much of the discussion.

St. Fleur stated that sixteen parking spaces will be added for the establishment’s staff and customers by demolishing part of the building at the site’s potential location. Michael Ross, the attorney working with Union Twist Cannabis to help open the establishment, referred to this as a “pretty good number” of spaces for anything in Boston.

Several attendees displayed concerns over how this will make the area more congested, given that the proposed location is on the corner of a busy intersection between Empire Street and Lincoln Street. The store’s representatives also stated that they were hoping to hire around 25 people to work at the dispensary and were expecting 150-200 customers per day, creating doubt that sixteen spaces will be enough.

With universities such as Harvard, Northeastern, Boston University and Boston College nearby, many feared that this establishment would make obtaining marijuana too easy for college students.

Tahira Rehmatullah, a consultant for Union Twist Cannabis, instantly met these concerns with a response: “If you think that students [and] younger people can’t access it on the black market, you’re totally wrong. So it’s already out there, but the plan for this and the whole goal for legalization, is to make it a safer, much more controlled product that we can track, oversee, and make sure that it’s safe.”

Ross claimed that they will take extensive measures to ensure that the marijuana being sold at the establishment is only sold to those that are legally allowed to purchase it. He also stated that the use of RFID and tagging of the product will allow it to be traced back to the customer if it should ever fall into the wrong hands after purchase.

The attorney for the establishment commented: “You need to be 21 years or older; there is a secure kind of check in…if you have a fake ID, if you don’t have an ID, it’s like Fenway Park – if you don’t have an ID…you’re still not going to get a beer.”

Security was presented as a top priority for the group, with Daniel Linskey, former Superintendent-in-Chief of the Boston Police Department, signed on to oversee it.

Linskey stated the location chosen is ideal for the establishment as it is a standalone building that is ideal for security due to its isolation from other locations. There will be only one entrance to the store as it is easier to guard, and the store will hold up to five figures worth of stock at any given time. Linskey went on to state that deliveries of the product will be sporadic to ensure no one can follow it routinely in an attempt to prevent theft.

The group’s next step is to seek approval for the location and begin work on it should they get it. This proposal currently offers a glimpse into the future of marijuana in Massachusetts and what is sure to be a sign of what is yet to come for the city of Boston.

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