A proposed cannabis dispensary in the neighboring city of Northglenn has sparked plenty of controversy, with citizens filing over 100 complaints and several business organizations condemning the proposal.
Local religious groups and residents met on Nov. 9 to voice their opposition to the planned development of a cannabis warehouse and courier service in Grove Hall.
Nu Life Natural Herbs, a health and wellness shop, and Nova Sheen, a dry-cleaning service, used to be situated at 415-417 Blue Hill Ave. Minister Don Muhammad, a local religious leader who opponents of the cannabis warehouse referred to be a cornerstone of the community, owned both enterprises.
The cannabis business would serve as the offices of EnRoot LLC, which would run a delivery service for its own cannabis products stored at the Grove Hall site, as well as work with other Boston dispensaries to act as courier to deliver other products to consumers, according to a plan presented at an Oct. 27 community meeting.
James Kinney, Brian Keith, and the other proprietors of EnRoot would have no consumers coming into their Blue Hill Avenue store under the licenses they have filed for.
At a news conference on Nov. 9, Reverend Randy Muhammad, the head of Muhammad Mosque No. 11, said that he believes the neighborhood already has enough narcotics.
“We don’t believe we need any more narcotics in our neighborhood,” Muhammad added. “We’re already in the midst of a catastrophe that we can see right down the street, on what they call Methadone Mile, Mass, and Cass, where we’re seeing our people suffering from the effects of addiction.”
He is concerned that increasing cannabis usage in the community may lead to an increase in addiction, both to marijuana and to other, more dangerous narcotics.
“We’re seeing our people becoming hooked to cannabis in all of its forms, whether it’s smoking or eating it, whether it’s oils or whatever other combination they can come up with to package it,” Muhammad added.
Marijuana use disorder affects roughly 30% of cannabis users, according to a 2015 research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Some of those users will develop addiction, which is distinguished by the fact that the individual is unable to quit using cannabis despite it interfering with many parts of their lives. According to the Marijuana Research Study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), roughly 9% of cannabis users may develop an addiction, while the report acknowledges that estimates of the amount are contentious.
Muhammad also raised worry about marijuana’s potential function as a gateway drug, in which marijuana usage precedes the use of stronger narcotics.
According to the NIDA study, some evidence suggests that cannabis may act as a gateway drug. However, numerous ideas exist as alternatives to the gateway-drug hypothesis, and most individuals who use cannabis do not go on to use more hazardous drugs. More study is required to see whether cannabis is a gateway drug, according to the report.
Project R.I.G.H.T. co-director Michael Kozu expressed concern about the increased traffic that another cannabis shop would bring to the region. Pure Oasis, Boston’s first recreational dispensary, is located only down the road at 430 Blue Hill Ave.
“Of all the areas to establish a courier service, with a shortage of parking and access, it’s actually going to exacerbate situations that many of these people currently experience,” Kozu said at the news conference. “Blue Hill Avenue is quite congested. Warren Street is a bustling thoroughfare. Devon Street was chopped down. People are cutting down all of the side streets, placing young people in danger. We can’t even acquire ‘Yield to Pedestrian’ signs for these crosswalks on Blue Hill Avenue because they’re constantly being driven over by careless vehicles.”
Keith, one of EnRoot’s proprietors, stated at the Oct. 27 meeting that the team has agreed to utilize eight parking spaces in the lot adjacent to the storefront, three for delivery vehicles and five for warehouse personnel.
Keith further said that they want to pay for a traffic study, which he believes will reveal that their company has no impact. At the meeting, he promised not to establish the firm until they had secured positions for staff elsewhere.
Community residents spoke out against the initiative at last month’s public meeting, stating that they do not want to see another cannabis company in Grove Hall.
Sister Yvette Muhammad, Don Muhammad’s oldest daughter, remarked during the press conference that she believes it would have a bad impact on the neighborhood.
Yvette Muhammad said, “I don’t care whether you’re dropping it off or smoking it here, that’s not what our neighborhood needs.” “And in the name of my parents, my brother, and my community — which needs life — we need better than a cannabis store where our minds are transformed whether we consume, smoke, massage it, or anything.” We need a community in which we may grow.”
She and others opposed to the company because of their religious beliefs. The use of cannabis is prohibited in Islam, and many attendees at the conference remarked on the property’s closeness to numerous religious organizations in the neighborhood.
Keith spent much of the October meeting advocating for the advantages he claims his company would provide. They would create at least 39 employment in the neighborhood under the planned proposal. Keith said that recruiting Grove Hall residents, particularly individuals of color, will be a top priority. Another of the firm owners, Finney, stated that as part of the start-up process, they want to donate $100,000 to “good causes” in the Grove Hall neighborhood. Those money are presently undesignated and have no specified destination.
Keith said he wants to obtain community input so they can create a business that is most appealing to residents, but that not having a company there at all — as many community members suggested at the public meeting — is a “non-starter” for him.
“I reside in Roxbury, as do many of you who also live in Roxbury and Dorchester. “We know that structures are constructed without community support, and we know that goods are delivered to the community without community support,” Keith said. “Do we, in fact, need community support?” No. We’d appreciate it if you could help us out. Would we be willing to make changes to our project to make it more representative of what you would expect from a company like ours? Yes.”