Pot entrepreneurs to address public concerns at forum
BLACKSTONE – The number of cannabis entrepreneurs that are proposing to sell adult-use marijuana in Blackstone stands at two, and one of them – Gurpreet Kalra, proprietor of the Family Grocer convenience store on Main Street – is ready to discuss his plans with residents at a community outreach meeting set for Nov. 19.
Outreach meetings are required by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, and must be held before any local permitting begins. The Nov. 19 session to be held from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Blackstone Public Library will give residents and abutters a chance to gather information and ask questions about the proposed licensed retail marijuana store, which will be located in 1,368-square feet on the second floor of the existing building at 202 Main St.
There are five convenience or mini-mart type stores in Blackstone, and Family Grocer was the first out of the gate to announce its intention at a selectmen’s meeting last
month. Since then, a corporation calling itself DDM Sales, Inc., has notified the selectmen of its plan to put an adult-use retail cannabis dispensary in at 1 Lloyd St., the former Bell Liquors building located between the Millerville Men’s Club and Stop & Shop plaza. A date for a community outreach meeting for that establishment has not yet been set.
Recreational marijuana sales have been legal since July 1, but by law nothing
can be sold until it’s tested by a licensed lab for safety. Now that two testing labs have licenses and a handful of marijuana businesses have provisional licenses, the Cannabis Control Commission says recreational pot shops are just around the corner and that once inspections are completed, full licenses can be granted within the next month.
“For those townspeople who have concerns, this is a heavily regulated business,” Kalra’s attorney, David Rogers, told the selectmen last week. “There’s eight or nine states around the U.S. that have legalized adult-use can- nabis and there’s different models in different states. Massachusetts has chosen a very heavily-regulated model. There are 15 different policies you have to have in place before you can be approved. It’s a very rigorous process.”
Kalra told selectmen last month that he wants to get in on the ground-floor of the budding recreational marijuana industry in Massachusetts, saying it will benefit both his business and the town.
“There are surrounding towns that will be getting in on this, so why not get in on it earlier than later?” he said. “This can be a revenue-grower for the town.”
Prospective marijuana businesses are required to secure host community agreements before they can apply for a license from the state. Under the law, local officials can also set the tax rate on marijuana sold within their city or town’s limits, up to 3 percent. Unlike medical marijuana, recreational cannabis will be taxed. The state plans to levy a 6.25 percent sales tax and 10.75 percent excise tax, and leave to the discretion of municipal officials an option to levy the local tax up to 3 percent.