The applicant proposing to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in the heart of the Back Bay outlined their plans during a public meeting sponsored by the city Monday night at the Copley Branch of the Boston Public Library.
Michael Dundas, founder and CEO of Sira Naturals, told the capacity crowd that the company intends to open the facility at 829 Boylston St. between the Apple Store and Walgreens Pharmacy. Sira Naturals currently operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Cambridge, Somerville and Needham, as well as a cultivation and manufacturing facility with a commercial kitchen in Milford.
“There are 51 stores coming to the City of Boston, whether you like it or not,” Dundas said. “It puts the neighborhood in a difficult position…because you have to look at the location and proposed operator as well.”
Dundas said Sira Naturals would renovate the entire building where it hopes to open on Boylston Street “to give it the look and feel that the neighborhood deserves,” and that the store would have separate entrance and exit doors to create “a circular flow of customers through the building.”
The store would aim to keep the same hours of operation as Sira’s other dispensaries, daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., but Dundas said he would be willing to negotiate that with the community.
Dundas said the Back Bay facility would offer only recreational marijuana to start, but would possibly sell medical cannabis in the future. “It’s impossible for organizations to survive selling only medical marijuana,” he added.
On their busiest days, Dundas said Sira’s other dispensaries serve between 400 and 500 people, but he anticipates the foot traffic would dissipate as more cannabis shops open.
The store would also adopt a virtual queue system based on Apple’s Genius Bar to help facilitate sales, Dundas said.
Mike Mershimer, a security specialist hired by the company, said that his firm would undertake “a wall-to-wall, thorough risk assessment of all its facilities.”
Said Mershimer, “They go above and beyond, and they’re spending a lot of money to bring us in.”
State Rep. Jay Livingstone underscored the importance of thoroughly vetting the manager for the Back Bay facility who has yet to be named.
In response to concerns raised by those in attendance that people smoking marijuana in and around the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Dundas said his staff would aim to educate customers.
“We will remind [customers] that smoking outside is illegal, and that we want to be good neighbors,” Dundas said. “We can probably take proactive steps so that people don’t use it in the neighborhood.”
Dundas also said Sira Naturals would be held accountable if their product got into the hands of underage users.
“We believe cannabis is not a panacea…and there is a growing body of research that cannabis is not good for the developing brain,” he said.