Former Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson has been tapped as the chief executive of Verdant Medical, a medical marijuana group that plans stores in Boston and Provincetown.
Verdant, a nonprofit, had previously struggled to win licenses and open facilities in several towns. Now, with the start of recreational pot sales just weeks out, a reinvented version of the group — with Jackson at the helm and the backing of a large out-of-state investment company — will work to open hybrid medical-recreational marijuana stores, with a cultivation site to follow.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to provide the best quality and best service to patients who are in need of cannabis,” said Jackson, who endorsed the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana.
Besides serving ill patients, the former politician said he was motivated to get into the marijuana business by the chance to provide jobs to workers who are frequently marginalized, especially minorities and those with drug convictions. The state’s recreational pot rules provide incentives for businesses led by or that employ people from communities affected by the war on drugs.
Jackson said Verdant would pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
“For me, this really is a continuation of the work I was doing in office, in that one of the things people asked me for most often was a good paying job with benefits,” he said. “We look forward to having a best-in-class diversity policy and really embracing the spirit of the legislation relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects. We’re going to hire people who have made a mistake in the past but need an opportunity to participate in the workforce. That’s the premise of legalization, but it’s also the right thing to do.”
Verdant was among a number of medical cannabis operators that were granted priority status earlier in May by the state Cannabis Control Commission, which will allow for faster processing of their applications for licenses to sell recreational marijuana. However, Verdant must still get approval from each municipality where it hopes to operate before it can sell marijuana.
Jackson ran against incumbent Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh in 2017 on a platform centered around economic and racial inequality in the city.
In February, Jackson took on a temporary position as a fellow at Parenting Journey, a nonprofit based in Somerville that works to lift families out of poverty.
Prior to his election as a city councilor in 2011, he was political director for Deval Patrick’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and worked in pharmaceutical sales.Dan Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.