Richy Pena and his wife Jody Mendoza, owners of Team Green LLC, are proposing a retail cannabis dispensary at 1441 Tremont St. A public meeting was held on June 24, where the proposal was presented and questions and concerns from the community were addressed.
Pena explained that the space proposed for the dispensary is around 1,000 square feet, and is a former “All Checks Cashed” location, where the walls and ceiling are made of metal, which Pena said is “great for extra security.”
The location will feature a vault for the cannabis products and around-the-clock security footage that can be sent to police “in real time,” according to the presentation. Additionally, the inside of the building cannot be viewed from the street.
The dispensary’s proposed hours are 10am-9pm Sunday through Thursday, and 10am-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The team also talked about their diversity and inclusion plan for hiring. The presentation said that “a minimum of 85 percent of our team will be drawn from the following demographics: minorities; women; veterans; persons with disabilities; immigrant populations; [and] people of all gender identities.”
Mendoza said that “we’re going to hire from the community that we’re part of.”
Pena and Mendoza are economic empowerment applicants.
The team said that between 15 and 22 jobs will be created with this establishment, and all team members will make $15.69 an hour, which has been deemed the “living wage” by the City of Boston’s Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance,” Mendoza said.
Employee benefits would include childcare as well as “microloans” for people who “need help now” for things like rent payments or fixing a vehicle. Mendoza said that a walk-through of the location would also be organized for Mission Hill community embers over the age of 21 before the dispensary opens to the public, and the team also proposed a “quarterly virtual meeting for at least the first year in order to hear community feedback.”
The team also explained that they are aware of safety and security issues when it comes to cannabis, “and we promise to do our part,” Mendoza said, adding that she and Pena are the parents of three young boys.
Patronscan, which uses facial recognition software will be used to ensure than no one under the age of 21 enters the facility. It also creates a log of all visitors which will be available to law enforcement if necessary.
Issues of traffic and parking are on the list of top concerns for many residents when it comes to cannabis dispensary proposals across the city.
Mendoza pointed out that the proposed location is one minute away from the Roxbury Crossing T stop, and that transit passes will be given to all staff members. A bike rack will also be available for staff use.
Mendoza said that no deliveries will be made in the front of the building so as to not add to existing traffic in the area.
“We are a family business,” she said, adding that they do not have the means to purchase a parking lot. “This is a small neighborhood shop.”
A parking spot will also not be offered, as “we are not encouraging vehicular traffic,” she said.
For patrons of the dispensary, “‘green bonus’ gift bag items that incentivize biking or taking public transportation” will be available, according to the presentation. The team will ask local businesses for coupons, samples, or other freebies that could be given out in the bags.
Mendoza added that a “fastpass” will be offered to customers who pre-order for pickup. Customers who double park will not be admitted to the dispensary. Additionally, no billboards will be used to advertise this facility.
“We’re a neighborhood facility,” Mendoza said.
During the public comment period, many residents spoke in favor of the proposal, while others expressed concerns they had regarding the proposed location’s proximity to facilitate that deal with children.
Pena responded by saying he attended Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, “which is one of the schools around there,” so he is “well aware of what is happening around there.”
He said that as a teenager, he saw “what happened” to his friends if they were caught in possession of or using cannabis.
“I think that putting a business that sells a drug, or flower, however you want to call it, that this is a legal substance that’s been approved in the state, in a location that has been affected by the war on drugs and illegal narcotics, is a positive thing,” he said.
He added that the “reason I say that” is that marijuana purchased on the street could be laced with dangerous chemicals, but what is sold at the dispensary is highly regulated.
“This is a very safe alternative for people to consume cannabis,” he said.
A resident who was identified as Drew said he supported the proposal. “I think cannabis is here to stay,” he said, adding that he believes it is “very highly scrutinized,” more so than liquor stores. He said he feels that Pena and Mendoza are “responsible business owners who are invested in the community.”
Former City Councilor Felix Arroyo said, “I think Mission Hill would be lucky to have Jody and Richy open a business in their community.”
A question was asked regarding whether or not this proposed location was outside of the 500 foot buffer zone of schools.
Pena said that this location is not within 500 feet of “any school that would disqualify us from opening a dispensary at this location.:
Mary Ann Nelson said she lives one block from the proposed location, and she said she is “concerned about having two cannabis shops so close to each other. I think that this is the wrong location for a second cannabis location in Mission Hill,” as she believes there are :too many youth-oriented activities” in the area.
Nelson also asked the team how they would handle someone who smokes a Team Green product on her front porch or in the general area.
“Every product has a QR code that is assigned to your name,” Pena said. “We know what we sold and how much we sold,” so any person who wants to “overbuy” can be kept track of, and only a certain amount of product can be purchased at once.
Anyone caught consuming products outside after leaving the facility will be banned from returning to the dispensary. In the case of not being able to provide that a product came from Team Green (such as if the wrapper had been thrown away), he said to “call the officers and have them deal with that situation.”
Other residents expressed support of the location and of the owners’s plan to open this business in the neighborhood.
Anyone with further questions, comments, or concerns about this proposal can reach out to Patrick Fandel at [email protected].