After two tumultuous years of controversy, Patriot Care, Boston’s first medical cannabis dispensary, was approved to open for business on 21 Milk Street.

The site is conveniently located within a five-minute walk of all four MBTA rapid transit and subway lines. For patients seeking medicine for cancer treatment, chronic pain, glaucoma and other illnesses, this means the dispensary will be easily accessible. However, the surrounding community is concerned about the new business and how it will affect the neighborhood.

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Patriot Care is one of 35 medical cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts, but only half of those businesses have started the process of finding an operational location. Local groups and property owners are concerned the Boston dispensary will therefore draw a large crowd.

A leader of Boston’s Midtown Cultural District Residents Association, Rishi Shukla (photo below), said:

“It’s the unknown ­­ what is it going to bring with it? . . .The reality is, we’re a young neighborhood coming out of an era that was problematic, that was ridden with drugs and illicit activity, homelessness. Those are all still very real issues in this neighborhood.”

Rishi Shukla

Dennis Kunian, the executive vice president of Patriot Care, says the company expects between 80 and 100 patients a day once it opens in December or January. Though the enterprise might see even more patrons, there will not be “lines around the corner.” The location will have a double door system, which requires individuals to show a medical marijuana patient identification card and a second form of ID. Additionally, a police detail will monitor the site, which is reportedly a key reason the dispensary received approval.

Patriot Care seems dedicated to remaining cognizant of the local community’s concerns. After the zoning board approved the site, Kunian promised,

“We will be good neighbors.”

Next year, voters will likely have the opportunity to legalize recreational cannabis in the state via a ballot measure. Should voters approve the ballot, the company has promised to never use the pioneer store on Milk Street for the sale of recreational marijuana.

photo credit: Brian Butler 

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