By Bill Shaner
August 2, 2018
From the outside, Good Chemistry — Worcester’s first medical and possibly first recreational cannabis dispensary — is a nearly-anonymous storefront tucked between a few thrift stores on Harrison Street, part of the wider Crompton Collective network of mill buildings. The only detail suggesting what lies inside is the tastefully-decorative fog on the windows and a small, unadorned sign.
Inside is a different story.
Today, Good Chemistry is open for business, and the sleek interior design, the long bar not unlike a coffee shop, and bright displays laying out the price quality and characteristics of pot products, is a first look for Worcester at the new face of weed.
“We’re here. I know a lot of people have been waiting for the second largest city in the state to have a cannabis presence,” said CEO Matthew Huron, while standing in the middle of the store’s main room.
A waiting area leads to security doors, and on the other side, patrons are greeted with a large, blow-out portrait of Good Chemistry employees harvesting the product. A large television display stresses the company’s mission while next to it, a large graphic on the wall spells out the company’s system for potency, style and medical use. The company uses five characteristic as a guide: sight, touch, aroma, taste and sensation. The categories are a rubric of sorts, used by employees (they call them budtenders) to help people find the right product.
Across the counter is a stack of small pamphlets which lay out the system, called STATS, with infographics, and leaving room at the end for users to grade rank their favorite strains. The marijuana is further divided into categories of effects: amplify, relax, relieve or sleep. Since the store is currently medical only, patrons will need a medical card, approved by a doctor, to purchase product.
Tonight, the company will hold a grand opening in the Crompton Collective patio space on Green Street, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Good Chemistry, a Colorado-based company, is opening in the fifth year since cannabis became legal for medical use.
It could also well be one of the first recreational dispensaries to open in the area. The company received one of the first two community host agreements the city authored for up to 15 pot shops allowed in town.
Good Chemistry and Prime Wellness, on Pullman Street, received the city’s first two community host agreements – documents that lay out conditions of approval and also substantial payments to the city coffers. The community host agreements allow the two businesses to seek final approval from the Cannabis Control Commission. If all goes well for them, they could be the first two retail pot shops to open in Worcester – and take the first two of 15 retail licenses allowed by the city, per zoning rules.
If they open, each company will be required to pay a community impact fee equal to three percent of gross sales, or $60,000, whichever is more. The agreements also ask that the companies do their best to hire from the community, and follow the city’s hiring guidelines for people of color and women. The agreements also ask that the companies rely, when they can, on local suppliers and vendors.
The two agreements were approved separately from the process used for other applicants, because they already had medical licenses. For the rest of the applicants, the city is taking all applications at once via a request for proposals process. The city is taking applications until Aug. 24.
The agreements are necessary to get final approval from the Cannabis Control Commission. Both companies are in the queue for CCC review.
While they’re hoping for recreational, Huron has a strong message for customers: get your medical card, because it’s going to take a while.
“We really are encouraging people interested in medical cannabis to go and get your medical card,” he said. “It’s a pretty easy system.”
The adult-use process, he said, could take a long time. If you want in now, it would be better to get a card.
Indeed, close observers of the industry estimate it won’t be in full gear until later this year, at the earliest. A lack of growers and testing facilities has slowed the process, along with bans and partial bans in more than half of Massachusetts cities and towns.
“It’s a slow process, but it’s a deliberate process,” said Huron.