Courtesy of Greeneway Wellness Foundation
On Friday, January 31, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health awarded the first 20 medical marijuana dispensary permits for cities and towns around the commonwealth. Locations will include Worcester, Salem, Haverhill, Amesbury, and Lowell, and in the Greater Boston area, patients will have options in Newton, Boston, Brookline, Quincy, and Cambridge.
The Dig is on the case. As such, on the morning after licenses were handed out, we spoke with John Greene (that’s his real name), the founder and CEO of the Greeneway Wellness Foundation, which got the DPH greenlight to open a dispensary in Cambridge, with the added possibility of opening two more in the future.
When and where will you open in Cambridge?
Most likely in mid-July. We will open in East Cambridge with a store and a free delivery service for qualified patients.
As far as jobs, what sort of employees are you looking for and what positions are you looking to fill?
Patient service reps, hospitality workers. Have you been waiting tables for years and also are you compassionate with a real heart and passion for patients? We’re looking for those sorts of employees. And human resources, management, processing, operations, inventory control, cooks, agriculture, but in some ways that growing work is easier to teach new employees to. There’s lots of opportunities for employment. I’m already getting lots of resumes in the last 24 hours since it was announced.
Will these be living wage or minimum wage jobs? What about the UCFW (Union) push into marijuana industry?
With this industry and its growth, and the way it’s now being set up here, yes, these jobs will be very good ones to have. We’ll be paying well over what President Obama has been proposing for living wages. Well above that. I don’t think there’s going to be much clamor for unions; I’d be surprised. These won’t be minimum wage jobs. Our nonprofit hopes to provide employees a great benefits package, a wellness program unmatched, and paid charity work of an employee’s choice, [plus] acupuncture and other alternative health services provided at a big discount, in addition to regular health care and vacation and standard workplace benefits. We aim to make our benefits amazing for our employees.
With medical marijuana in other states and now legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington State, there’s still been a banking issue related to the federal government. Are you continuing to expect banking to be a concern for your dispensary operation?
You heard Obama’s comments, right? The Justice Department is saying if we are following state laws and not breaking the guidelines established–we’ll be abiding by all that–the feds aren’t coming after us or the banks. I think we should be fine. It’s no longer going to be a major concern.
Will this dispensary model in Massachusetts be able to reach its goal of providing quality service for all patients?
Absolutely, 24-26 licenses max, no more, that will work. We aren’t talking one dispensary in New Jersey that can’t cover the population of that state. This model in Massachusetts will have a bit of healthy competition, but not over-saturation and greed. It’s a good start; it may take time to see it fully blossom, but I’m confident right now, with this group of dispensary licensees, we’ll be able to really help serve all of the patients in Massachusetts.
With opponents like Howie Carr of the Boston Herald speaking out against dispensary openings, do you have anything to add to that discussion?
Yes. I think you should ask them, “What would you do if it was your parent, spouse, child, or loved one?” If it’s your family that needs this medicine, I suspect you might change your stance on this subject.
Would you like to see DPH allow more caregiver services?
You’re asking somebody who had to figure out how to get $740,000 to get through this application process. That’s what we spent and then the five-year lease to secure facilities. I think ideally yes, it would have been better to allow more caregiver services, but the regs and the law in Mass is the way it is. It’s in place, and now many of us orgs have invested time and money into it. That’s not going to change. The bottom line is that there’s going to be more than enough to go around for everybody. I understand people have concerns about strain-specific and are wanting options, but the dispensaries in this program are really going to cover much new ground. The reason I got into this is because I lost my father to cancer. Right now, I’m glad I followed through and spent all this time, energy, and money to see it through for my dad and many out there that could have been and will now be helped by our dispensary and wellness services.