Compassionate Organics Wins Small Battle with the Boston City Council

By Beth Treffeisen

The Boston City Council voted to send a letter of non-opposition in the first step to allow Compassionate Organics to operate a medical dispensary at 331 Newbury Street in the Back Bay, at a hearing on Wednesday, June 28.

The dispensary needs a letter in non-opposition from the Boston City Council to move forward in their application with the State.

“After talking to members of the community the general consensus and one that I share is that the operator should be allowed to move forward in the process,” said Councilor Josh Zakim. “This is not a final decision on the suitability of this property.”

He continued, “I am personally reserving judgment until we have a more robust community engagement but I trust this will be at an appropriate location and they do have expertise to offer right there.”

Further steps still need to be taken, including getting the proper permits from the State Department of Public Health, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the City Public Health Commission, and the Back Bay Architectural Commission. In addition, they need to garner support with community associations throughout the neighborhood.

A hearing to discuss how Compassionate Organics will operate, the impacts on the community and security was held on Tuesday, June 27.

“Compassionate Organics has been searching for the perfect location that meets the strict State and local standards to operate a registered medical marijuana dispensary in Boston since just after the 2012 ballot initiative,” said Mike Ross the attorney from Prince Lobel.

This site sits on the last block of Newbury Street in a community that over overwhelmingly approved the ballot initiative back in 2012 by 77 percent of its residents.

The location meets all buffer requirements and fits within the existing zoning. It complies by the amendment passed by the Boston City Council and fits within the half-mile restriction.

Key components to this location is that it is ADA compliant, is made up of 1,535 square feet, which will allow for ground level retail and a corporate office below grade.

The site will be serving qualifying patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/ AIDS, Crohn’s Disease and other alignments.

Compassionate Organics goal is to be open seven days a week from 10 am to 8 pm. They plan to have daily deliveries to the dispensary that no more than one-day supply is on site at any one time.

The cultivation site will be in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Working with a private security team, Compassionate Organics will call for randomized deliveries to be made safely and securely.

All of the products for this dispensary will be pre-packaged in childproof containers so there will never be any cases of loose-leaf products.

“While I wasn’t successful in Allston I did learn an enormous amount from that experience. I want to publicly affirm my intentions to run a top-notch facility in our city,” said Jeff Reilinger the CEO of Compassionate Organics. “I’m proud of the team we assembled of local talent, local board, local capital.”

He continued, “I also want to take the opportunity to apologize in falling short in my last attempt in trying to open a dispensary in Allston. I’m not happy in how we performed as a team, how I performed, and of course I am disappointed in the result. Me and my application are better to bring us this opportunity.”

There was concern at the hearing that it might one day change over into a recreational marijuana dispensary, but with the State House still figuring out legislation to make it legal, the teams at Compassionate Organics are still not sure.

“It is hard for us as neighbors to make these decisions because there is so much in limbo at the State House,” said Zakim.

In response, Reilinger said that he is doing this for medical and that he will forever be bound by the incredible tight restrictions for medical marijuana at Newbury Street.

“There may be a case that the neighborhood wants me or the State wants me and I might also want to do recreational but I will still be bound by those parameters,” said Reilinger.

He continued, “They don’t want lines and drum circles outside, I can’t have that as medical. I can’t have all the things people fear – that’s one of the things we can absolutely commit to right now, not knowing how things will shape in the future.”

Compassionate Organics will be meeting with the licensing sub-committee of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay in early July. They have already had discussions with other associations including the Back Bay Association and the Newbury Street League.

Ross said that if all goes well in gaining all the proper zoning and permits they will be set to start selling in August 2018.

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