An actual family-run dispensary opens pretty darn close to Boston
Millis isn’t right around the corner. Located out west on Route 109 beyond Westwood and Dover, it’s about 15 minutes north of Gillette Stadium, and anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour from the Hub and Cambridge, the former if you’re in the JP-West Roxbury vicinity. But with only one adult-use dispensary between Brookline, Cambridge, Quincy, Somerville, Malden, and Watertown three years into the recreational era, cannabis-consuming creatures of the Greater Boston region might as well consider the freshly opened Millis outfit CommCan to be their new neighborhood spot.
We were literally the first customers through the door on Tuesday for CommCan’s soft recreational launch. Before that, we showed up early to a tour of their spectacular 30,000-square-foot growing facility next door, where they’re in the process of doubling in size with a second-floor buildout. With seven flowering rooms, CommCan has 62 strains in production, harvesting every 7 to 10 days. The initial construction began in 2015 and was completed in 2017; now, with two years of nurturing plants to retail at CommCan’s Southborough medical store under their belt, CEO Marc Rosenfeld said they’re prepared for the expected rush that will likely come with rec sales in Millis.
“At the time [it was built], this was the largest new ground-up construction [of a licensed grow facility in Mass],” Rosenfeld said, opening door after door to show plants at various stages. “Most places have to make do—they have an old warehouse, an old manufacturing facility. There are a lot of problems that are inherent with that, but we were able to lay it out all new.”
Finding the property was the easy part. Ellen Rosenfeld, who co-owns and operates CommCan with her siblings, has been in the real estate business for decades, managing developments in Millis and elsewhere. But when it came to cannabis, she said, “There’s no [instructional] book.” As a result, it was “one of the most frustrating and exhilarating” experiences of her career, though on Tuesday morning, her sense of joy and relief was palpable. As was that of the rest of the crew.
“We’re not a multistate operator,” Rosenfeld said. “We have one dispensary here in Massachusetts that’s been open for a year and a half on Route 9 in Southborough, so we have a pretty good understanding of what we’re doing, but we don’t run a chain of dispensaries in other states. We’re unique in Massachusetts. We’re the only family-owned, family-run, self-financed group there is. We have no outside money from anyone.
“We answer only to ourselves … If that means we’re not maximizing revenue the way an investor would demand us to, that’s okay, because we’re not building an acquisitions department. We’re building a family business that we run together.”
A boutique shop focused on quality, the Rosenfelds take lots of pride in their product, and connoisseurs may soon be seeking their brands, Bite (edibles) and Drip (oils and extractions), at shops across the Commonwealth. (Let it be known that the first eighth of flower ever purchased at CommCan in Millis, of Purple Punch packing 19.07% THC, is beautiful enough to display in a museum, and crystally and colorful enough to want to snack on.) But while they’re crafting their own specialties as a family business, they’re aiming to become a destination for consumers in surrounding communities to find the best of what’s being produced elsewhere as well.
“The closed shop mentality—I don’t think it can last,” Marc Rosenfeld said. “Are you ever going to [another kind of] store that only has one particular line of anything?
“People in Massachusetts have been waiting for legalized cannabis for a long time. They want the best of everything.”