GREENFIELD — It is “virtually impossible” to get a marijuana business approved in a community without knowing it deeply, a spokesman for Patriot Care, which runs pot facilities across the country, told an audience Thursday in Greenfield, its newest host community.
As part of an educational workshop in partnership with Greenfield Community College, the leaders of the pot business explained some of the keys of success to the developing industry, beyond what to grow and how.
“You need to know your market,” Dennis Kunian said to the about 50 people gathered for a three-hour workshop at GCC Downtown. “You need to understand who’s there.”
CEO Bob Mayerson and spokesman Kunian spoke about how they got approved to open up the medical — and soon to be recreational — marijuana shop in the old American Legion building off Legion Ave.
In Greenfield, Kunian said, he and Patriot Care worked to get to know the veteran population, which he is personally passionate about, along with groups like the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club and the Elks Lodge. He said would-be marijuana shop owners should also get to know local and state politicians.
“It’s good to spend some time at the Statehouse and get to know them,” Kunian said. “You need to know the gatekeepers. If you know the gatekeepers, you’re in.”
The spokesman listed a handful of people who are good to know, not necessarily saying these were the ones he got to know in Greenfield, like the mayor’s administrative assistant, the “driving force” behind the planning and zoning boards. He also mentioned that business owners “can’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call” someone like City Councilor Isaac Mass or Director of Greenfield Planning and Development Department Eric Twarog.
“If you can develop a relationship and you can be open and honest with them, you’ve made some great strides,” Kunian said.
It’s also important to establish a niche, at least in conversation with the approving boards in the community, Mayerson said. The Planning Board asked Patriot Care if the business will buy marijuana from local farmers if it meets guidelines, which he told the board the business would.
“People like to buy local,” Mayerson said, reinforcing Patriot Care will buy if someone from the region if they meet the organization and the state’s guidelines and restrictions.
Kunian offered a lesson on media relations, as well.
“You really have to make friends and identify with those media outlets, but on the other hand you have to understand that their job is to write and print the news,” the spokesman said.
Mayerson and Kunian, along with a consultant they brought along, spoke about other elements of the industry, including security, growing and investment.
“It doesn’t have to be millions and millions of dollars, but it’s a fair bit of capital,” Mayerson said to a group of people, some of whom expressed an interest to either work or run a business in the marijuana industry.
The CEO advocated for people to understand that what is most important to know is “we have a responsibility,” when clients walk into the facility. They need to make sure there is appropriate material so whatever someone buys is what is good for them, and they know how to take it.
“The attention to detail, and I know I keep saying it, but it really is so important,” Mayerson said.
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