Cannabis equity coalition takes stand against racist attacks on Black-operated business in Harvard Square
New campaign aims to combat systemic racism in Cambridge's Harvard Square
Oct 22, 2020, 11:55 ET
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A neighborhood association's overtly racist comments and controversial opposition to a Black-owned and locally operated business in upscale Harvard Square, a heavily commercialized neighborhood of Cambridge, MA, have spurred a leading cannabis equity coalition to launch a citywide public awareness campaign to bring awareness to the systemic racism in Cambridge which maintains the economic status quo and which seeks to thwart plans for the business to operate in its proposed location.
The new public awareness campaign by the Real Action for Cannabis Equity (R.A.C.E.) coalition will include television and social media advertisements, mailings to area residents, and more, all aimed at protecting and ensuring opportunity for Black and minority-operated businesses like those that have been recently opposed by the neighborhood association.
In Massachusetts and across the nation, the emerging cannabis industry has been marred by widespread and well-documented failures to ensure the equitable distribution of licenses to minority entrepreneurs and to other economic empowerment applicants. Advocates say these inequities further compound the incarceration and brutalization that misguided and inequitably enforced prohibition policies have disproportionately wrought upon Black and Brown communities.
Meanwhile, even when minority operators have secured state-certified cannabis licenses, many have often faced obstacles and prejudice when attempting to obtain commercial lease agreements. Recently, Damond Hughes, a Massachusetts state-certified economic empowerment license-holder and third generation retail store operator, was able to overcome that obstacle when he obtained a lease agreement from one of Harvard Square's only commercial landlords who is a person of color.
"Securing the commercial lease for our store was a dream come true. We are appropriately zoned for this location and have developed solid plans to mitigate cueing and other issues. We are glad to have the support of so many allies of racial justice from within the R.A.C.E. coalition and beyond as we move forward to advance equity in Harvard Square," said Hughes, who will operate the store in a commercially zoned space at 57 JFK Street, Cambridge, which has previously been vacated by national office supply chain Staples.
The new retail cannabis store at 57 JFK Street will be known as Cookies, and in addition to being minority-operated and minority-owned, the store will bring a leading minority-owned industry brand that has an equity-centered mission to a neighborhood that is acutely lacking minority-owned and operated businesses.
The store will also attract much-needed foot traffic to the Square as local businesses - and particularly restaurants - recover from the pandemic. Hughes has well-formulated plans not only to reduce queuing through mobile alerts for customers waiting to pick up their completed orders, but he also plans to use those technologies to encourage them to patronize local restaurants and other shops while waiting for their orders. The plan will bring a much-needed boost to struggling Harvard Square restaurants and businesses.
Read the full press release here.
SOURCE Real Action for Cannabis Equity (R.A.C.E.)
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