Pot en­trepreneurs to ad­dress pub­lic con­cerns at fo­rum

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSEPH FITZGER­ALD jfitzger­ald@woonsock­et­call.com

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.

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