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Company gets OK to start work on a recreational pot store in Boston

A rendering of the proposed Ascend retail marijuana operation in Boston.Ascend Massachusetts

A fledgling marijuana company says it has received a crucial city zoning permit that will allow it to start construction on what it hopes will be Boston’s first recreational marijuana store.

Ascend Massachusetts says it got the go-ahead on Tuesday from the Zoning Board of Appeals to begin work on a vacant building it purchased at 272 Friend St., near North Station and TD Garden.

A spokeswoman for the zoning board did not comment on the status of Ascend’s permit. But in a November interview, Mayor Martin J. Walsh offered a clue that the store might be the city’s first, saying a retail shop would open “probably around the North Station area.”


As of Thursday, two other companies had submitted applications to open stores in Boston.

Ascend is a local subsidiary of Ascend Wellness Holdings, which also operates in Illinois and Michigan. Its local chief executive is Andrea Cabral, a former Suffolk County sheriff and former state secretary of public safety.

The company hopes to open its Boston store in late 2019, if it receives the necessary approval from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. Ascend has submitted an application to the commission that’s still under review. The company plans to break ground in February.

In a statement, Ascend said its Boston store would be “a unique and innovative benchmark location for the Massachusetts cannabis industry.”

While crafting an agreement with the city, Ascend received letters of support from leaders such as state Senator Joseph Boncore, state Representative Aaron Michlewitz, and City Councilors Josh Zakim and Ed Flynn.

“A core value of our company is to positively impact our neighborhoods and communities,” Cabral said in a statement. “We are proud to have the support of leaders and organizations across Boston and Massachusetts in this endeavor.”

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.