Customers rejoice as Boston’s first recreational cannabis store finally opens its doors

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Almost four years of waiting is over for Boston’s cannabis consumers, what with the first ever recreational cannabis store having officially launched for business. On Monday, March 9, Pure Oasis began ushering customers inside its store, which is perched on 430 Blue Hill Avenue on the edge of Stanwood Street.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s a great feeling to be first, but we know that also comes with a level of responsibility,” shop owner Kevin Hart admitted to The Associated Press shortly after receiving a license from state regulators.“It’s our responsibility to take this win that we got today and make sure people of color realize they have the same opportunities.”

Pure Oasis is owned and operated by Hart and Kobie Evans — two black entrepreneurs. The entrance of Boston’s first cannabis dispensary was adorned with red ropes on opening day. While the owners anticipated that up to a thousand people would be clustered in-between those ropes, eager to get their hands on quality cannabis products, the turnout wasn’t as busy as expected.

Nonetheless, Shaleen Title isn’t disheartened. Title, who serves as attorney general for the Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, has long-awaited the moment that Boston’s first cannabis dispensary would open its doors.

I think it’s good to over-prepare, definitely for traffic and parking issues and crowds. After 40 stores have opened, I think we struck the right note of being over-prepared just in case and then hopefully everything goes smoothly like it did today,” she told Boston Magazine reporters.

Hart and Evans are equally as optimistic; they say that the store’s launch marks a milestone moment in state history and particularly so in regards to black business ownership.

Boston’s first recreational cannabis dispensary employs 30 on-hand staffers 30 members of staff were on-hand to assist customers during the official launch of Pure Oasis, which stretches over 3,000 square feet. Inside Boston’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, customers will find an expansive waiting area. Once it’s their turn to be served, one of 10 registers will do the deed. The store is open to customers aged 21+ every day of the week until 7 p.m. 

Store owners Hart and Evans weren’t the only ones who thought the initial turnout would require so many staffers to help manage a potential overflow of customers. Prior to the opening of Boston’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, Mayor Marty Walsh said that police would be deployed to the scene to ensure everything went smoothly. 

“It’s going to be crazy,” he expressed during a recent press conference. “There’s going to be lines; there’s going to be traffic; there’s going to be chaos; there’s going to be confusion.”

Black market loyalty from long-time consumers could be a potential reason why the turnout of Boston’s first cannabis dispensary wasn’t as busy as expected. Sources say that as much as 80 percent of cannabis purchased in Massachusetts comes from illegal dealers. 

More than 40 cannabis retail locations have sprouted out of Boston

It’s taken almost four years for a store to actually open in Boston; a ballot initiative passed in November 2016 to legalize recreational cannabis in Massachusetts. Although Boston is new to the legal cannabis scene, numerous dispensaries are already open across the state of Massachusetts. Currently, around 40 retail stores are actively serving customers. However, none of those stores are operated by black entrepreneurs, making Pure Oasis stand out among competitors.

Black communities are said to have been hit hardest by the “war on drugs.” While social equity programs may provide a window of opportunity for people with criminal drug records and for individuals residing in low-income communities, just two of 184 cannabis business licenses in Massachusetts were obtained through social equity programs as of August 2019.

Three more Boston cannabis stores will soon join Pure Oasis in serving the city’s consumers. Additionally, over a dozen store owners have been selected by Walsh’s administration to kickstart their operations within the city.