The Summit was hosted at the Red Barn at Hampshire College by the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC) and Ezra Parzybok, a cannabis consultant based in Northampton. Communication with local communities and education was a big part of the summit.
“I think the more people learn about the industry the more they’re okay with it,” said Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke who was the keynote speaker of the event.
Morse described the cannabis industry as an economic driver and said many of Holyoke’s vacant mill buildings are perfect sites for cannabis cultivation, processing, and selling. While Morse has been a proponent of cannabis for years (he was the first Massachusetts mayor to endorse Question 4, the ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts in 2016) he has been met with some resistance from city council members, particularly from former council president Kevin Jourdain who left the council at the end of last year.
“Many people are still waking up to the possibilities of the industry,” Morse said.
Morse said that the best evidence to communicate the potential of the industry to naysayers happened when the owner of Holyoke’s first cultivation center, Green Thumb Industries, held a job fair that attracted 800 people, who according to Morse were mostly Holyoke residents. Morse said that Holyoke has 1.5 million square feet of vacant mill space, and that the cannabis industry presents a chance to revitalize those buildings and “return to our industrial roots.”
“We didn’t really have to say anything after that,” Morse said.