Citing a plan to introduce a wellness approach that is part TB12 and part home-grown Charlestown, Jack Kelly announced this week that he has applied to the City of Boston for a Host Community Agreement that would allow him to pursue a recreational marijuana license to operate a boutique shop at 31 Cambridge St. – the former R. Wesley’s Bistro on Sullivan Square.
Kelly announced his plans on Monday, and still has a lot of hoops to jump through and community meetings to conduct, but hopes people will see the value of his small, local approach to bringing the new marijuana industry to Charlestown. His proposal is bolstered by the fact he is a state-licensed social equity operator, having been a casualty of the War on Drugs.
“I am going to be going for the first retail cannabis shop in Charlestown,” he said. “I am a social equity applicant and took 18 months of classes to learn about cannabis and the industry. I will be one of the first social equity applicants in Boston…I think this proposal is responsible and respectful to the community. As someone that grew up in Charlestown, that’s critical…We have to take baby steps and we want to gently introduce this.”
Kelly has entitled his new venture as Resilient Remedies.
Resilient Remedies was founded and developed in December 2019 and Kelly has brought together a team of local investors and expert consultants, including in the areas of cannabis cultivation and retail design and planning. Resilient Remedies seeks to provide a small, boutique experience that will bring premium cannabis, fitness and wellness offerings to the neighborhood’s growing population of active professionals who are focused on healthy living and see cannabis as an alternative to other pharmaceutical or performance treatments.
Kelly is well-known for his journey in recovery, having suffered from substance abuse disorder and the use of heroin – something that came to him due to the pain and injury caused by his high-level of performance in hockey and other sports. After falling to terrible lows within his addiction, and being arrested at times for his use, he was able to get on a road to recovery. Though that journey is never over, he has brought his life back and has focused a lot on athletics, writing, wellness and fitness – having climbed mountains, run in triathlons and written a book on his recovery.
His station in the recovery community, however, has not been one that brought about a stance against the legalization of marijuana, he said. Unlike some, he has always had the thought that marijuana usage could serve a wellness purpose for a lot of people. That is why he decided to pursue the social equity designation and go for a small, recreational shop in his hometown.
“I’ve actually never been against legalization,” he said. “This is not some transformation of how I feel. I was always a little different in that as I was always an advocate. This is not a change of heart and I want to be clear about that. I’ve always had a different view of how marijuana could be used properly.”
In developing Resilient Remedies, Kelly presented his plan to local consultancy, Joyce Strategies, who have agreed to provide pro bono services, including public and investor relations to the company. Joyce Strategies has over 30 years in combined experience supporting local businesses and currently assists select cannabis entrepreneurs in establishing themselves in this emerging industry.
The social equity part of the proposal is very important to Kelly, he said. He said it is a great part of the state law on cannabis to help those who were punished by the War on Drugs to now be able to build a business on the legal product. It’s what pushed him through months of study in the program, feeling that he could bring the product to Charlestown responsibly according to the law.
“Charlestown, like many communities, was devastated by the War on Drugs,” he said. “Substance abuse has taken such a toll on Charlestown. We should profit on this industry and not some outside money. It’s kind of about a keeper of the gate on this.”
Kelly said he sees marijuana as a medical and wellness product, but said he pursued the recreational license because the start-up costs for a regular person trying for a medical license are immense. Those licenses require one to not only have the regulated sales, but also to grow their own product and study it as well. That takes several locations and a great deal of start-up capital. Pursuing the recreational license is more accessible and doesn’t require complete vertical integration – meaning he doesn’t have to grow the product himself.
The application for a Host Community Agreement will trigger the start of a community process to begin engaging with the Charlestown community and introduce the proposal. Resilient Remedies will be working with City officials and neighborhood stakeholders to navigate this process during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We hope the community will support it,” said Kelly. “We believe this is the spirit of the law – local people benefitting from this new industry. I have spent a lot of time in the sphere of addiction and recovery and I will do this responsibly and respectfully.”