BOSTON – The first recreational cannabis dispensary in Boston opened its doors on Monday. While the first adult-use cannabis shop in a big city is always a milestone, Pure Oasis represents more than just a new dispensary in the area to open. It also is the first cannabis business to come online through Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission’s social equity program—a program designed to help communities unfairly impacted by drug enforcement laws to participate and benefit from the legal cannabis industry.
“Understand that this is history that’s happening here in Boston,” Pure Oasis Co-owner Kobie Evans said to his staff according to MassLive. “This is similar to the end of prohibition. You guys are part of it. You guys are instrumental in us being here. Thank you for that. Enjoy this moment.”
Co-owner Kevin Hart sees the opening of Pure Oasis as a shining example for those who may have become disenfranchised by the war on drugs and a lack of opportunity in the cannabis industry.
“We set out on this journey a long time ago to show people who look like us that if you work hard and you persevere then success is soon to come,” Hart said.
Although African Americans use cannabis at similar rates to Caucasians, they are over three times more likely to be arrested for it. Typically, these arrests have provided an insurmountable obstacle when trying to enter the cannabis industry. Pure Oasis, through the state’s equity program, is trying to change that and has hired staff members with previous cannabis-related convictions.
“The war on drugs had a very detrimental impact on neighborhoods just like this and that’s why we’re here, to try and remedy some of those negative effects and to try and create a balance,” Evans said. “And that’s what equity is, it’s balance. How do you balance out what has happened in a negative light and create something positive in the community.”
Niambe McIntosh was the first customer to be served at Pure Oasis. She is the daughter of Peter Tosh, noted reggae musician and along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, one of the original members of the Wailers. Tosh was also known as a cannabis advocate.
“It definitely moves the needle forward,” McIntosh said of the shop’s opening.
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Although Pure Oasis is making history, more work needs to be done before the cannabis industry is truly accessible to all. So far, Massachusetts has approved licenses for 280 companies. However, only ten of those have gone to businesses through the equity program and 75 percent of all cannabis job applicants in the state are white.
Hart knows that a truly equitable cannabis industry will require more than just the opening of Pure Oasis.
“It’s a great feeling to be first, but we know that also comes with a level of responsibility,” Hart told The Associated Press recently. “It’s our responsibility to take this win we got today and make sure people of color realize they have the same opportunities.”