Patriot Care, the cannabis dispensary on 21 Milk St., made their case this week to add recreational adult-use sales to their existing medical-use license. The company has been operating in downtown Boston for three years, along with two other locations in Lowell and Greenfield, Massachusetts. City officials hosted a well-attended community outreach meeting on the proposal with mixed reactions.
Advisor and former CEO of Patriot Care, Bob Mayerson, presented the proposed changes to the current location include a separate entrance for recreational customers. Mayerson stated that this would help limit long lines. He also referenced a traffic study claiming that “Patriot Care’s proposed reconfiguration of the existing medical cannabis dispensary at 21 Milk Street to accommodate both medical and adult-use clients will have no perceptible impact on the area’s pedestrian environment, transit services, or roadway network operations. Enough parking capacity is available at nearby off-street parking garages to serve the Project’s parking demand.”
Councilor Ed Flynn acknowledged Patriot Care’s positive track record but maintained reservations concerning how close in proximity future dispensaries would be to residential areas. With State bills signed into legislation in 2012 and 2017, local officials are now dealing with these issues in the rollout of cannabis to Boston’s inner city communities.
Patriot Care currently operates from 8am to 6pm, but may potentially seek to extend their hours to 7pm. Marty Walz, Interim Director of the Old South Meeting House, remarked that she hadn’t even known about the existence of the 21 Milk St. dispensary, “it looks like just another office building” and she added that she would support later hours, feeling that there needs to be more foot traffic and positive nighttime activity on Milk Street.
Several downtown residents raised concerns about adding a recreational use license. Faith Arter, a resident of the nearby Ritz-Carlton Condominiums, expressed misgivings about the impact cannabis-related tourism would have, a concern echoed by several attendees including a resident of 45 Province St. and a local Milk St. business owner. Arter also brought up that, at a previous meeting, Patriot Care had assured those in attendance that they would not be seeking recreational use in the future.
Manager Nelly Rivera spoke about the facility’s relationship with its customers. “We care about the patients and the community around them.” Rivera described caring for her 93-year-old mother who had used cannabis medicinally.
Security VP, George Agannis, explained the company’s methods for identifying problems at its facilities. Patrons pass through a multi-layered system of security – from fraudulent identification to surveillance technology. “Providing protection while ensuring everyone who comes into the facility is treated with dignity and respect is essential,” said Agannis. He added that customers are expected to act in an appropriate demeanor, mindful of the law and their neighbors.
“We’ve had no negative issues, everything you’ve promised to do you’ve lived up to,” said Rosemarie Sansonne, President and CEO of the Downtown Crossing Business Improvement District (BID). Sansonne was initially opposed to the dispensary but acknowledged the work Patriot Care had done so far in living up to their commitments and working with the Downtown community. She concluded by urging Patriot Care to take the initiative and educate as many people as possible on the subject of cannabis, especially students through potential programs offered to Suffolk University and Emerson College.
City and company officials said they will take the feedback from the community meeting into consideration. Eventually, the company will have to appear before Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals to add recreational marijuana use to its license.