MA: Medical Pot Shop Eyes Recreational Sales

Photo Credit: Chitose Suzuki

City councilors and community activists are wary of plans for Boston’s first medical marijuana dispensary to expand their business into recreational sales, arguing the operators promised to stick to medicinal pot when they were first approved.

Patriot Care is looking to open an “adult-use marijuana establishment” to sell recreational pot in its location at 21 Milk St. and will present plans at a public hearing tomorrow. A Patriot Care spokesman said the facility’s exterior will not change and no marijuana use would be allowed on-site.

The Boston Patriot Care facility was the first pot dispensary to open in the Hub, going online in 2016 after several years of red tape. During the application process, executives said they would sell only medicinal marijuana, despite the ongoing effort to legalize recreational pot.

“Right out of the gate they have a big credibility problem with businesses and residents and the zoning board because they sold themselves as medicinal only,” said At-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty, who has pushed for a half-mile buffer zone around all pot shops. “They need to go back to the community; you can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.”

Rishi Shukla, a founding member of the Downtown Boston Residents Association, said Patriot Care has done a “reasonably good job” since opening but a promise is a promise.

“We view this as reneging on a commitment that was made and was a strong basis for them getting the license in the first place,” Shukla said. “Words matter.”

“Although the voters approved medical marijuana in our state, I also think it is important to have a thorough community process that respects the concerns of the impacted neighborhood and their quality of life,” downtown City Councilor Ed Flynn said.

Boston has approved numerous medicinal dispensaries since Patriot Care, with similar facilities preparing to set up in East Boston, Back Bay and West Roxbury. At least one shop, Natural Selections in Newmarket Square, has said it intends to also pursue selling recreational marijuana.

The Milk Street facility is 6,200 square feet and would separate recreational and medicinal customers, a spokesman said. Patriot Care also operates a medicinal dispensary in Lowell.