How buffer zone rules are impacting cannabis dispensaries in some Boston neighborhoods – WBUR


Cleon Byron has lived nearly all of his life on the 1000 block of Blue Hill Avenue, where a cousin operates a restaurant and his family has owned a storefront for nearly 30 years, the latter a site that he painstakingly took through the city’s cannabis licensing process in the early days of the Boston Cannabis Board (BCB).

Byron can’t walk down the street without seeing someone he knows — or perhaps is related to — making him a known quantity in the area who was trusted to open Evoke, the first cannabis dispensary in the area.

At the moment, the business has received all necessary city approvals at 1102A Blue Hill Ave., has a Host Community Agreement with the city, and is wading through the state Cannabis Control Commission’s process as he progresses to an opening.

Cleon Byron in front of the upcoming Evoke cannabis dispensary at 1102A Blue Hill Ave., an area where he has lived his entire life. (Seth Daniel/The Dorchester Reporter)

So Byron was floored this month to see another proposal from a retired Boston police officer — Ed Alicea, who also runs the Boston Puerto Rican Festival — advance in the process rapidly at a site just 200 feet from Byron’s facility.

At a hearing in early September, it seemed that Alicea’s proposal was looked upon favorably by the BCB, something its members reiterated at a later meeting on Sept. 22, despite a clear conflict with the buffer zone ordinance, which prevents two dispensaries from being within a half-mile of one another – let alone a few hundred feet in this case.

This law has become quite controversial in recent months, as more and more dispensaries seek out territory and Blue Hill Avenue becomes a hot spot for those

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