If a marijuana stores is going to have to come to Charlestown, then it would be best to entrust that delicately responsibility to someone everyone knows – that was the message iterated several times by Charlestown’s Jack Kelly and his Resilient Remedies (R2) team in their online public meeting on Thursday night, Oct. 22.
R2 is proposing to open the Town’s first recreational cannabis retail shop on Sullivan Square in the old R. Wesley’s Bistro – putting into place what they said would be a highly-controlled store available at first by appointment only. The plan includes selling all kinds of marijuana products, and it is expected the target audience would be those 40 and over with lots of disposable income – an average of $106 expected to be spent per transaction and about 240 customers expected per day. The building would also be completely renovated as well, Kelly said.
After some early criticism in the meeting and around the Town that Kelly and his team, which includes former City Hall workers Dot Joyce, Kevin Joyce and former Boston Police officer Dan Linskey, were insiders with and inside track – Kelly said it wasn’t true and he was the only one of the two proposals that could be entirely trusted.
A cornerstone of his presentation was that he is the fourth generation to live in Charlestown. He lives on Main Street and his parents live less than a ½ mile from the shop. He said he would be the best person to handle this responsibly for the Town.
“To bring this into my hometown and open a cannabis shop is a responsibility I understand,” he said. “I am 1000 percent the right person to open up a cannabis shop in this community. I’m going to be there…I’m a resident and I’m your ally. Whether you like me or not, there are a lot of developers that specifically don’t want me on that site. They know I will be on your side…This is exactly why I got my social equity license to bring this into my community. My name counts. I don’t get anywhere in life without my name. If I don’t have my name and reputation, I have nothing.”
His confidence wasn’t share by everyone though, including some of the neighbors in the Lost Village who aren’t happy about locating any “pot shop” on Cambridge Street.
Christopher Worsham, a physician that lives on Brighton Street, said there is already a shop in East Somerville a few blocks away, and another proposed a few blocks away in the other direction. That would leave three in their neighborhood, though each would be in a separate municipality.
“I would like to express my opposition to this store,” he said. “As they said, they are still learning best practices as they go and that’s not acceptable to me and my family and my neighbors to experiment with where we live…There is already one pot shop in East Somerville three blocks from here, and another proposed two blocks from here. How many do we need here? The answer is we need zero, but we have one that’s open and that should be enough in this area.”
Meanwhile, Elaine Donovan, of Russell Street, said she supported the measure because she trusts that Kelly and his team will be responsible and careful due to the strong ties to the community.
“It makes a huge difference to me that we’re going to have 52 cannabis dispensaries in Boston,” said Donovan. “As someone who has seen a lot of addiction, I know people have a lot of anxiety about it. I have fear as well, but if it’s going to be here, I’d rather it be someone from here. Jack’s feet are so firmly placed in this soil…He’s the one I would trust to open the first cannabis dispensary in the Town. I think the word I have for it is ‘trust.’”
Ann Marie Callahan, who lives near the dispensary, said she would like to see more discussion with neighbors in the immediate area.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion about pot shops in our neighborhood,” she said. “There are two different operations now looking for a spot here. We’re concerned about traffic…I’d like to see more conversation with people in this neighborhood (Lost Village) from this group about how our concerns will be addressed before you open.”
Linskey said there would be a vigorous ‘trespass’ system in place to protect the neighborhood. He said every customer would have to sign a ‘Code of Conduct’ agreement with R2, and violators would not be allowed to come back. That would prevent customers from going to Ryan Playground to use the product, or standing outside, or distributing it to children.
“If anyone sees someone smoking at the playground or something, snap a picture and send it to my cell phone,” he said. “We’ll review our surveillance video and if we ID that person as a customer, we’ll trespass them.”
The matter will now continue down the path of trying to open on the site, but they will face the competition of the Heritage Club at 116 Cambridge St. Both are being reviewed at the same time, and due to the half-mile buffer zone implemented in zoning, both cannot open.