Marijuana shop proposed for Hyde Square

A new company, Core Empowerment, is proposing to open up a recreational marijuana store in Hyde Square at 401A Centre St.

Recreational marijuana stores have yet to open in Massachusetts despite voters approving a 2016 ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana with a date of the stores opening on Jan. 1, 2018. The state has been slow-walking their opening, but the first is expected to do so within weeks.

Core Empowerment is majority owned and managed by a diverse, local, women-led team, according to Tomas Gonzalez, one of four principal owners. The other owners are CEO April Arrasate, an attorney with a biochemistry background and prior experience working in the medical marijuana business in the Connecticut; CFO Peri Higgins, who has 25 years of experience in the private equity, real estate, and consulting industries; and Counsel Derric Small, who prior to forming his own practice was a City of Boston official with over 20 years of experience.

“We are dedicated to implementing a responsible and compliant business model utilizing best practices to serve local consumers,” said Gonzalez in an email to the Gazette. “Additionally, we are focused on providing high-quality products and a curated experience for customers who choose Core.  Our team is also committed to educating interested patrons about the history, science, safety and social justice issues inherent in the commercialization of cannabis.”

Asked what inspired them to open a marijuana store in Jamaica Plain, Gonzalez replied, “I grew up in JP and know the neighborhood well. I felt our concept would be well received in JP and bring value to the community.  Through this organization, I hope to give back to my community in many ways, including through education and recognition of the disproportionate impacts of the drug war on certain minority communities.

“We embrace the opportunity to educate the public on the complex history associated with prohibition and our Social Justice Museum will recognize and memorialize that struggle. Core is also committed to abolishing the myths and misinformation surrounding cannabis and cannabinoid science.  The Core Education Center will host experts and provide reliable programs and information covering law, science, research, medical advances, forms of administration, and a host of other cannabis related issues.”

Gonzalez, who is the former deputy director for the Office of Neighborhood Services in the Walsh administration and held various other roles in the City government, said that the company has filed its proposal with the City’s Inspectional Services Department and received a “standard rejection letter.”

“All cannabis facilities are receiving a rejection letter to kick-off the zoning process because it is a new ‘use’,” he said. “We will be scheduling a meeting with the City before filing our appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Currently, we are meeting with neighborhood groups, residents, abutters, business groups and owners to garner support for our proposal. Eventually, we will have a City-sponsored community meeting where everyone will be invited to attend and participate.”

Gonzalez said that the feedback the company has received so far has been positive. He said Core Empowerment met with the JP Business and Professional Association and expect a letter of a support from the organization.

“The businesses we have talked to in Hyde Square have been enthusiastically supportive and seem pleased that the space would have a new tenant after sitting vacant for 10 years,” he said.


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