Grow, Gift, Repair

Worcester county the new hub of Cannabis?

Laury Lucien wants her pot shop in downtown Worcester, Mass., to be more than a business. She wants to create culture.

“How I feel when I see the design we picked out, it feels like Spike Lee in Brooklyn, with jazz music and the brick,” said Lucien, 33, who is also an attorney specializing in cannabis regulation and policy. “That’s kind of the vibe we’re going for in this space. We’re trying to make this part of our culture.”

For now, the high ceilings, brick walls and sturdy old wooden beams of Lucien’s future storefront on Millbury Street are covered in cobwebs and dust — the building’s been vacant for the past 15 years. Lucien’s business, Major Bloom, is in a rapidly developing part of the Canal District, just blocks from the new Worcester Red Sox ballpark development. Lucien expects to employ a dozen people and do millions of dollars worth of business. But she said it’s important to her that the shop feels like it’s contributing to the local community.

“We’re extremely blessed and lucky,” said Lucien, referring to her ability to start her own business. “We have to make sure that we’re opening the door for others who are coming behind us as well.”

Major Bloom is one of dozens of cannabis companies trying to open shop in Worcester County and surrounding areas. Worcester has the most license applications of any county in the state to open pot businesses and is now home to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), meaning central Massachusetts is primed to become one of the most active parts of the region’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Local entrepreneurs and some lawmakers in the area see this shift as a welcome opportunity to take advantage of the influx of capital and become a model for the rest of the country for what an active regional cannabis industry can look like.

The CCC first announced its planned move to Worcester in 2018 and has since set up shop in a spacious office area in Worcester’s Union Station.

Commissioner Shaleen Title says Worcester was an obvious choice for the commission, which regulates the industry throughout the state. Title said Central Massachusetts was primed to be a potential capitol of cannabis on the East Coast.
“I didn’t foresee this, but the way this is playing out, central Massachusetts is really proactive — what I call ‘marijuana forward’ — in terms of embracing the way that these new businesses can be part of the community,” she said.