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East Boston pot shop receives final license as city councilors discuss path forward for marijuana equity in Boston

The Berkshire Roots dispensary in East Boston.
The Berkshire Roots dispensary in East Boston.Berkshire Roots

An East Boston recreational marijuana dispensary could become the city’s second pot shop after receiving its final license from the Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday.

The store will still need to receive a “commence operations” notice from state cannabis regulators before it will be allowed to open. The company, Berkshire Roots, also operates a dispensary in Pittsfield, where it cultivates its cannabis plants and manufactures products for its stores. The East Boston retail space will be located at 253 Meridian St.

Berkshire Root’s final license was granted during the Cannabis Control Commission’s monthly public meeting Thursday, during which dozens of other businesses were considered for final and provisional licenses. Boston’s first recreational marijuana store, Pure Oasis, opened in March in the Grove Hall neighborhood.


Meanwhile, the Boston City Council’s Government Operations committee met Thursday to discuss the progress of the city’s marijuana equity ordinance, which was signed into law last year. The ordinance created the Boston Cannabis Board, which is set to meet for the first time later this month, and built a new process for prospective marijuana companies to negotiate host community agreements and move forward in the local and state licensing processes.

The discussion involved multiple city councilors, members of the public, and city leaders, including Cannabis Board chair Kathleen Joyce and Alexis Tkachuk, Boston’s director of emerging industries, whose office oversees local marijuana licensing. Attendees shared their frustrations with the speed of implementing the marijuana ordinance.

Councilor Lydia Edwards, who is the chair of the Government Operations committee, emphasized multiple times that she wants the Cannabis Board to adhere to strict deadlines and set a quota for approving host community agreements regularly. She and other councilors lamented that applicants are facing long waits — some of which are out of the city’s control — that are making it difficult for businesses to push forward in the process.


“This should not be what kills a person’s business, coming to the city of Boston to ask for an HCA [host community agreement],” Edwards said. “This should not be killing an industry, and it is right now.”

Councilors also raised concerns about the city’s current licensing rules, including a provision that requires a half-mile buffer zone between marijuana dispensaries.

Last year, while Berkshire Roots was making its way through the Boston zoning approval process, the company was caught up in a confusing ordeal regarding buffer zones. Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration had signed host community agreements with both Berkshire Roots and another cannabis company called East Boston Bloom, despite the fact that both companies wanted to open pot shops within a half mile of each other.

After multiple deferred votes — and contentious discussions about the meaning of the word “existing” and whether either storefront counted as an “existing” dispensary yet — Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal ultimately approved both businesses to move forward in the state licensing process.

The councilors on Thursday agreed that progress needs to be made on many fronts in the local cannabis industry. City Council President Kim Janey, who championed the passage of the marijuana ordinance last year, said this should be a “call to action” for everybody involved that “we can not go back to doing business as usual.”

“This industry is crucial in reviving the economy here in Boston, particularly for entrepreneurs of color...” she said. “We’ve been saying this over and over and over again that we need to put forth policies that will liberate and really create the true equity that we need to see for Black and brown folks in our city."


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.