Vandals broke into a storefront being converted into a legal cannabis store in the Boston-area town of Lynn this past weekend and painted racist and anti-Semitic language and symbols throughout the space.
The Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts Green Retail CEO Jordan Avery found the painted walls, empty alcohol bottles, and a noose holding a long knife when he entered the space on Monday. “[Expletive] the Jews” and “Jesus Failed” were among the phrases on the walls. The Globe reported that Avery is African-American and has plans to convert to Judaism. Avery told local WCVB News that his business partner is Jewish.
The attack provoked outrage and sympathy throughout the region and within the cannabis industry. US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the state’s senior senator and a top Democratic presidential contender, condemned the hate and destruction in a tweet earlier today.
In a statement posted on Wednesday, Avery said, “I will NOT allow haters, racist individuals or the Town of Saugus and any of there tactics stop me from being a cannabis entrepreneur representing exactly what regulators, want; Locally-owned, small business, and a member of a demographic historically harmed by the war on drugs.”
Conflict With Bordering Town
Avery and his proposed Massachusetts Green Retail store have been in the news before. The local entrepreneur has been granted a permit for the store by the town of Lynn, which is about four miles north of Boston. Lynn and the town of Saugus share a boundary, though. The property on which the Green Retail storefront sits straddles the line—the store itself is in Lynn, while the adjoining parking lot is in Saugus. And the town of Saugus has passed an ordinance banning adult-use cannabis stores.
In late April, town officials in Saugus sued Jordan Avery and the Lynn City Council, alleging that the proposed store is illegal according to the law in Saugus. In early May, the Boston Globe reported:
- The complaint, which was filed in state Land Court on Monday, alleges that about 10 inches of the building, a third of an outdoor deck, most of the parking spaces, and a dumpster at the site are all located in Saugus. The Saugus selectmen who filed the lawsuit are requesting that the court invalidate the special permit given to the marijuana company, Massachusetts Green Retail, by Lynn’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Much of the dispute revolves around parking spaces that are in Saugus, plus a disputed 10 inches of building that Saugus officials claim sits in their jurisdiction.
Avery has not yet been granted a cannabis retail license by the state Cannabis Control Commission. Store license applications in Massachusetts must include a Host Community Agreement, which includes details of agreement between the local municipality and the license applicant. If the location of Avery’s store is in dispute, that could be a roadblock to obtaining the state license.
“We’re moving forward here,” Avery said in early June. “The whole point here is we’re not going to give up.”
Avery told WCVB News that the vandalism would not slow down his progress toward opening the store. “Our vision here is to open and we’re not going to let this stop us,” he said. “We’re going to clean this mess up, get construction going, do some demo work and get our application in” with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.