East Coast’s first minority-owned pot shop opening soon in Boston

BOSTON — We could see Boston’s first recreational pot shop opening soon.

In the heart of Grove Hall, Kobe Evans and partner Kevin Hart are building what they hope is an oasis of economic opportunity for Roxbury. And their doing it one bud at a time.

“I was talking to my mother and her and my father actually met in grove hall during the time of the black panther movement,” Evans said. “And then my dad later on in life had a real estate agency on the same block.”

Evans and Hart are co-owners of Pure Oasis LLC, Boston’s first recreational dispensary and the first economic empowerment applicant in the state to receive a final license and be opening.

It will also be the first minority-owned cannabis company on the east coast.

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“With that responsibility, we have ideals, we have core values, we want to give back,” Evans said.

The 2016 Recreational Pot Law requires state regulators to ensure that groups disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs are given licensing preference and resources to be an active part of the industry.

In 2019, there was $420 million in reported retail marijuana sales, none of which included economic empowerment applicants.

“I know for a fact that most people don’t have the financial resources to enter into this industry,” Evans said of what he thinks has been the biggest barrier to entry for cannabis businesses of color. “They don't have the technical assistance, the wherewithal.”

When asked what the process has been like working with the state, Evans said the troubles have come from local municipalities.

“The hard part for everyone is just the host agreement that has nothing to do with the CCC and has nothing to do with the state. It’s every individual municipality,” he said. “We’ve been paying rent in Medford for over a year now and we’re just waiting for them to enact a system where we can apply.”

Last March, the CCC reviewed more than 50 host community agreements and found some municipalities disregarding equity applications.

“I think the longer you can persevere, I think it’s obvious that there are people out there who activated and are working to make this path less resistant,” Evans said.

The Cannabis Control Commission’s Executive Director and Chairman have requested that the Legislature codify equity protections in zoning codes for cities and towns.