Tag Archives: Marijuana

Down in the Weeds in 02138

1 May

Proposed pot seller has an occupied address: Stereo Jack’s Records, in business for 37 years

 

Stereo Jack’s, at 1686 Massachusetts Ave., has been targeted for replacement by a seller of recreational marijuana. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The owners of a proposed pot shop called Budega did community outreach this week to potential neighbors of the business at 1686 Massachusetts Ave., an address occupied by Stereo Jack’s Records.

“Someone has applied for a license,” according to person answering the phone at Stereo Jack’s, “but we have no plans to close.”

At 37 years old and still run by founder Jack Woker, Stereo Jack’s is one of the longest-running retail stores along the corridor linking Harvard and Porter squares. Budega has begun an application process, but zoning for recreational cannabis has yet to be approved by the city. Arish Halani, the company’s chief operating officer, said opening the shop would take at least a year.

Stereo Jack’s owner Jack Woker in a video made last year by Will Marsh in collaboration with Newton North TV. Click through to watch the video.

The pending law and city officials both favor economic empowerment applicants – basically, people of color who were targeted disproportionately by police and courts during the war on drugs – and Budega’s letter leads with the information that it is a “women-, minority- and family-owned business.” It is signed by company president Sareena Halani and assures residents that it is “different than the big corporations currently in the cannabis space,” and wished to “work together to create a safe and secure dispensary.”

The letter also says to direct questions, comments and concerns to “me,” though the “me” is Arish Halani, not Sareena Halani.

The Halanis are brother and sister, South Boston residents whose parents live in Florida and have run jewelry stores and fast food eateries, Arish Halani said. He is a recent graduate of Babson College who works in commercial banking and co-owns a tax prep service in Chicago; his sister will graduate Northeastern this spring.

They plan to make a formal community presentation May 9 at Lesley University, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, with their father, Sohail Halani, and walk residents through the timeline for opening and other details about the shop, Arish Halani said.

Their first attempt at selling marijuana as Omnicann was in East Boston, but the application was denied by the city, Arish Halani confirmed. Now Budega faces a competing license for recreational marijuana sales for the empty space at 1908 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, formerly a Chinese restaurant called Wok N’ Roll. The locations are less than a half-mile apart.

Arish Halani said his company has signed a letter of intent with Crete Realty Trust, landlord of the Stereo Jack’s property.

“There’s a rumor out there that says Stereo Jack is planning to retire, and that is complete and utter bullshit,” said the person answering the phone at the vinyl shop. Asked who was speaking, the voice said, “Why, I’m Stereo Jack.”

Dope Comes to Town

27 Jan

 

Experts who gathered Jan. 17 to talk about the arrival of recreational marijuana included state Sen. Pat Jehlen, city planner Jeff Roberts, police Sgt. Lou Cherubino and David Lakeman of the state Cannabis Control Commission. Moderator Jeff Byrnes is at right. (Photo: Tom Meek)

A recreational marijuana dispensary is likely to open in Cambridge as early as this spring, officials said at a meeting last week in Porter Square where residents learned about the requirements to open one, and how laws about use would be enforced.

Three medical marijuana dispensaries are open and three more have been approved for opening by the Planning Board. But zoning for recreational marijuana shops hasn’t taken effect – a proposed law was ordained Dec. 17 by the City Council for discussion by its Ordinance Committee and by the Planning Board, but neither body has announced meeting dates. (Dennis Carlone, who leads the Ordinance Committee with councillor Craig Kelley, said he hoped the conversation would happen in February, but it was preferable for the Planning Board to meet first.)

There was no clear rise in crime or motor vehicle accidents in states with legal recreational use of marijuana, officials said, looking at preliminary data from Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 with Washington. Some data suggest that legalization of recreational marijuana correlates with a decrease in opioid use, a yearslong urban epidemic.

The Jan. 17 event, billed as “Legal Pot: The Status and Possible Effects on All of Us” was organized by the Porter Square Neighbors Association. Panelists were David Lakeman, director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission; state Sen. Pat Jehlen, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy; Jeff Roberts, director of zoning and development for the City of Cambridge; and Sgt. Lou Cherubino, of the Cambridge Police Department. Jeff Byrnes, a Somerville member of the association, moderated.

There was concern from the opening of the first recreational marijuana dispensary, Cultivate in the Central Massachusetts town of Leicester, which tied up traffic Nov. 20 and caused community anxiety, making front page news. But as one of only two marijuana retailers on the East Coast at the time, it drew customers from as far away as New Jersey, Leicester Town Administrator David Genereux was quoted as saying in the Worcester Business Journal. (The two dozen residents at the meeting were told incorrectly additional traffic was generated by a Walmart Supercenter opening at the same time.)

Good for business

Since late November, Massachusetts has seen recreational marijuana sales begin in at least two more locations – NETA in Northampton and Northeast Alternatives in Fall River – suggesting there would be less traffic impact along with a decrease in novelty and rarity. Easthampton, Salem and Wareham also had approvals for sales to begin.

Lakeman outlined ways in which retail pot would be good for business, including a requirement that all marijuana sold in Massachusetts must be produced here as well. Many of the production facilities, which require ample space and real estate, are reactivating old, shutdown industrial facilities north and west of Route 128.

Elaborate application processes include a host community agreement, with a tax of 3 percent or greater paid to offset potential traffic, education and enforcement impact, and there are social equity and economic empowerment components meant to repay damage done to people of color by the war on drugs, Lakeman and Jehlen said.

Rules and restrictions

Roberts outlined marijuana zoning rules saying facilities cannot be within 1,800 feet of each other – although there is already a zoning amendment request that an exception be made in East Cambridge – and that facilities be at least 300 feet from schools and other public recreational facilities where children gather. The state recommendation is 500 feet.

Not all residents were pleased by the lesser distance, and Jehlen said her big concern for youth was the rise of vaping and the targeting of youth as users. Other big complaints, panelists said of states with recreational marijuana use, have been the smell.

Consuming recreational marijuana in public, while decriminalized, is still an offense and can bring fines, Cherubino said. Possession of more than 10 ounces of non-medicinal marijuana is a criminal offense.

Rolling Papers

24 Feb

<i>Rolling Papers</i>

Back in 2014, weed-wanting residents of Colorado were able to fire up the bong and feel the burn legally when the state became one of the first in the Union to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. As reefer madness swept the Rockies, the rest of the nation sat and watched pensively. It wasn’t the second coming of same-sex marriage in terms of divisiveness, but there was controversy and bilious outrage—just check out some of Nancy Grace’s shrill prophecies of lawless mayhem. Rolling Papers, Mitch Dickman’s somber, oft snarky documentary, doesn’t quite deal with the cornerstone legalization so much as the Denver Post’s decision to appoint a marijuana editor to provide journalistic coverage of the budding industry and culture emerging from the shadows of the black market.

The film’s focuses on Ricardo Baca, the newly minted editor of the “Cannabist” column (which later becomes a break out magazine section-cum-website), who registers as a relatively somber and reflective soul given the high nature of his subject. Pontifications about what to write about when penning pot-life pieces abound. Ultimately, the format boils down to reviews of the various strains and blends—think of it like a film or food review about getting baked—and lifestyle exposés of the different kinds of users and the ways that legal weed now melds into their lives. One such staff blogger, Brittany Driver, is a mom with a toddler, which doesn’t sit well with a fellow Post editor who covers child abuse and likens the prospect to parenting on a six-pack of beer.

Dickman’s film is a bit like its subject—smoky, comfortable and unfocused. While the narrative adheres tightly to Baca and the debut of the column, it also ventures a bit further afield, touching on broader issues like the erosion of journalism. Unfortunately, it does so without providing much additional context or insight. Another germane yet under-explored topic includes the use of medical marijuana and the positive effects it’s had (replete with a few testimonials), but then the film jumps to a sextet of charismatic brothers who hit it big in the medicinal sector, tersely branding them opportunistic charlatans, before jumping back to Baca and his staff. It’s a disjointed head scratcher that at times makes you feel like you need to be sampling the goods to be in on the game.

The film’s most fired up when Ry Prichard, the cannabis nerd (a term he was awarded in the pages of Rolling Stone) brought in to backfill for Driver’s inexperience, is clicking away close ups of bodacious buds and giving them the taste test. His sharp comic wit and voracious love for all things green and oily, becomes a necessary offset to the other, more dour personas who grace the screen.

Ultimately,, the biggest reason Rolling Papers fails to fully ignite lays in its inherent lack of conflict. Baca’s well backed by the paper’s brass, so we know “The Cannabist” isn’t going anywhere. Much of the tension comes through Driver’s anxiety over job security, an investigative piece that busts a regulated seller for shilling weak shit (near nonexistent levels of THC) and the disappointment of having Whoopi Goldberg signed on to pen a column, only to have her change her mind. If you check out the website, you’ll get a smattering of weed reviews and a lot of pictures sent in from happy partakers. It’s a fun, yet thin footprint, one that Dickman the filmmaker doesn’t bother to go outside the lines to explore. High times in high altitudes doesn’t necessarily spark an interest for those not at the party.