Despite strong objections from Boston College (BC) and Berklee College of Music officials, two new marijuana stores close to the schools have been awarded preliminary licenses.
The municipal Boston Cannabis Board, composed of five members, unanimously voted for the approval of the licenses during a virtual meeting on Wednesday afternoon. This paves the way for Happy Valley Ventures to set up shop in the area.
The permit will be conditional on the company holding additional meetings with BC and other community members.
The project was first proposed in 2018, drawing fierce criticism and concern from the community due to its proximity large communities of young students.
Bill Evans, the former Boston police commissioner who is now head of BC security and police operations, protested against the store. He expressed his belief that the business was definitely targeting BC students and argued that scanning technologies would be unlikely to catch sophisticated fake IDs, the Boston Globe reported.
BC representative Jack Dunn said that the school “joins Cleveland Circle business owners and local residents in expressing our disappointment over the Board’s decision, which we believe is not in the best interest of the community.”
In response, Cannabis Board commissioner Lisa Holmes explained that the purchase and consumption of marijuana is “going to be something we really can’t do too much about.”
“If [BC students] don’t go here … they’ll just go up the street,” she explained.
Mary Jane Takes Over Mary Ann’s
Happy Valley Ventures will be taking over Mary Ann’s, a Cleveland Circle bar that was formerly one of the area’s most popular hangout spots for college students. However, it was also the scene of several fights and other alcohol-fueled disruptions. In 2012, a Boston College student drowned in a nearby reservoir after a night of drinking.
Evans of BC’s security and police operations said that he would “take Mary Ann’s over [the marijuana store] any day,” which raised quite a few eyebrows.
A NEW BUSINESS AT A FAMILIAR SPOT: Happy Valley Ventures working to turn Mary Ann's in Cleveland Circle into one of Boston's first recreational marijuana shops. Now, strong opposition from some familiar faces and big names. @NBC10Boston pic.twitter.com/phkSAabUXh
— Eli Rosenberg NBC10 Boston (@EliNBCBoston) January 8, 2019
Aside from this takeover, board commissioners also granted approval to a dispensary called Redi. The store will be taking over the Boylston Street storefront that is currently occupied by Little Steve’s pizzeria.
The administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Berklee College of Music, whose main campus is within the area, opposed the proposal.
Protective Measures for College Students
Commissioners of the Cannabis Board acknowledged the concerns of the two schools in a meeting last Wednesday. However, they also explained that it would not be possible to approve all 56 or so recreational retailers without a few setting up near one of Boston’s many colleges and universities.
In the Happy Valley Venture’s pitch to open a shop last 2019, they explained that visual IDs would be checked four times throughout the process of purchasing weed at the dispensary.
While their products would be priced competitively, it would not be so low as to make selling it on the black market appealing. If customers are found reselling, they will be banned from the store.
In addition, the company will not tolerate loitering or illegal parking and will hire security to enforce these rules.