JPNC Hears Proposal for Medical/Adult Use Cannabis Dispensary on Hyde Park Ave.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met on July 28, where Joseph Lekach came before the Council with a proposal to open an adult-use cannabis dispensary at 54 Hyde Park Avenue.

Though the Council did not vote on this matter at this meeting, Lekach said he hopes to present again for a vote at a later meeting. The JPNC did provide a letter of non-opposition for the medical dispensary in 2017, Lekach said, but he is now seeking adult-use to be co-located in the same facility, which requires an additional letter from the Council.

Lekach, co-founder and CEO of Apothca, a cannabis company with “significant operations within the state,” including a greenhouse facility in Fitchburg and a medical and adult use dispensary in Lynn, said that this meeting was the fourth one he had done in July. He added that he was “able to get some good feedback from some of our neighbors.”

Lekach’s hope for the Hyde Park Ave. facility is to open in January of next year for medical, and possibly next August for adult use.

The space at 54 Hyde Park Ave. is 1,500 square feet and will be a retail-only location that would offer products like pre-rolled joints, edibles, gummies, tinctures, and more, as well as provide patient education materials. The facility will be fully handicap accessible and all bathrooms will be ADA complaint, he said.

Lekach talked about the safety of the facility, and said that “only patients and registered caregivers can enter the medical facility.”

All employees are “rigorously background checked” and must be 21 years old or older. He said that video surveillance cameras will be located “in all areas that contain marijuana as well as all points of entry and exit.”

Security agents will monitor areas outside the facility through cameras mounted on the exterior of the building, which Lekach said will be pointed away from people’s homes.

“During business hours, all marijuana will be kept in in limited access areas inaccessible to any persons other than dispensary agents,” he said, and during non-business hours, it will be stored in a “secure, locked vault.”

Additionally, “no consumption of marijuana by customers, employees, or visitors is permitted at the facility or in public,” he said.

When asked about hiring local, Lekach said “we’d love to hire local.” At the Lynn dispensary, he said that over 75 percent of employees are Lynn residents. “We always have a preference for local first,” he said.

Though the medical portion and the adult use portion will be co-located, “[medical] patients can skip the line at the entrance. The checkout is the only thing that’s different,” Lekach said, and no adult use sales will be permitted in the patient-only area.

“We have to do the build-out,” Lekach said, and “expect to be able to open for medical sales in January” as “all the licensing has been done. He said that they will be operating the medical dispensary “no matter what,” but they also want to co-locate the adult use portion.

He said that the adult use portion still has to go before the ZBA and a host community agreement, among other approvals, are still pending. He said he is “optimistic” in saying that the adult use portion will open in August of next year.

Lekach said that police details will only be at the facility “so ling as the locality requires us to. This agreement is for having [the Boston Police Department (BPD)] until the community decided it’s not needed anymore.” He said that the facility in Lynn required a police detail for five days, and he would prefer to hire his own unarmed security personnel than to have a “formal police detail.”

Andrew Brown, a neighbor who said he can see the dispensary from his house on Wenham St., is a medical patient himself and was wondering if Lekach would offer a discount for patients who take public transit, as some other dispensaries do.

Lekach said he would offer a transit discount to medical patients, but law does not allow for the discount to be applied to adult use patrons.

He said he is seeking a letter of non-opposition from the Council, but would be happy to come back with more information and to answer questions. The Council did not vote on this matter.

Public Service Committee

Michael Reiskind, Chair of the Public Service Committee, asked the full Council to vote on whether or not they should urge BPD to adopt the national “8 Can’t Wait” policies, four of which the BPD is already using.

“BPD’s version is less stringent than the national 8 Can’t Wait,” he said, and reported that he was happy to see different viewpoints on the matter represented at the last Public Service Committee meeting.

After a motion that the JPNC “urge” the BPD to adopt these policies, JPNC member Peg Preble said “I would want to wait for something a little stronger before we vote.”

JPNC member Vicky Arroyo said that she would be “happy to vote ‘no’ and make it known to BPD that this is not it.” She said that with four of the eight policies already part of BPD’s policy, she said that they are not being upheld and this is an opportunity to “actively say ‘no’ when the wrong thing continues to come along.”

The Council voted against the motion, with two in favor, eight opposed, and five abstaining. They did want to make sure, however, that their message was not that they do not support reforming the police, but many of them felt that stronger measures need to be taken and the 8 Can’t Wait discussion will continue at the next Public Service Committee meeting,

The Council did vote to approve the two municipal policies outlined in the Massachusetts Elected Officials of Color 10 Point Plan.

Zoning Committee

Two projects, one at 7A Eliot St. for the Footlight Club to upgrade its accessibility with a new fire stair and Limited Use/Limited Application elevator, and one at 98 Forbes St. to add a two story, 150 square foot addition, were approved by the Council.

JPNC Election

The JPNC election, which was supposed to be in April and was postponed because of COVID-19, was rescheduled for this October.

After discussion amongst the Council members, who decided that October was a busy time for many and collecting in person signatures and having face-to-face interactions is not a good idea right now, the election is postponed once again until April of 2021.

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