Western Front, the recently opened recreational cannabis store in Chelsea, is focused on making a change in the community where it resides and hopefully across the greater Boston area. As one of the first cannabusinesses to operate under the state’s economic empowerment provision, which prioritizes minority populations that have been disproportionately impacted by anti-marijuana legislation, its founders are focused on creating an environment that fosters conversation and inspires others.
Thirty-five local families, the majority of whom are people of color, comprise the ownership group behind Western Front, focusing on bringing an economic opportunity to the low-income town and creating good jobs. Perhaps this drive to make a change is highlighted by its co-founder Marvin Gilmore. A 96-year-old decorated World War II vet, Gilmore has long been a voice for change in the greater Boston region. He opened the first Black-owned bank in New England, served on numerous agencies that drove economic revitalization across the area, and owned the iconic Western Front nightclub in Cambridge for almost fifty years.
Though he has never partaken in cannabis, he decided to get into the industry to help those in need. “The money that comes out of it helps change the neighborhood,” Gilmore said. “For men who have been to prison, it provides jobs, training and takes them off the streets. It changes their perspective – they’re proud to be here.”
Offering a wide array of cannabis products from vetted producers, the 10,000-square-foot dispensary is the first step in a plan to expand a brand that will mirror the neighborhoods it operates in and present a welcoming place for all who come to visit. The commitment to offer opportunity is reflected in Western Front’s employees, of whom more than 95% are Black or Latino, with many new to the cannabis industry. All are being paid a living wage and are mentored and offered financial-literacy training to set them up for future success.