Arizona Business Express Interest In Opening Pot Shop On Pleasant Street

Photo: An image of Mint’s retail pot operation on Pleasant Street.

An Arizona-based firm described as “an industry leader in the blossoming cannabis industry” has sent a notice of intent to Belmont town officials to open a “world class adult-use“ retail marijuana dispensary on Pleasant Street where a service station is currently located.

Mint Retail Facilities LLC which runs a pair of retail shops in the Phoenix suburbs of Guadalupe and Mesa hopes to open its first Massachusetts operation at 768 Pleasant St. “no later than Dec. 31, 2020” if all goes to plan.

The one-story building will be constructed where Lenny’s Service Center is currently operating, adjacent to My Other Kitchen and Auto Engineering Body Work and Cityside Subaru.

Shops near Tempe.

The firm, owned by Eiavan Sahara, is concurrently seeking state cultivation and manufacturing licenses in Palmer and Beverly.

Mint joins Winchester couple Kelly and Stephen Tomasello who have expressed interest in turning a commercial storage site at 1010 Pleasant St. into Cal Verde Naturals, 3,600 square foot single story “retail wellness shop.”

While both ventures will need to commit to discussions on host community agreements, no time line has been established with either group, said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator, to the Select Board on Monday, Dec. 16.

The town is currently drafting guidelines with the help of Town Counsel George Hall for applicants to follow during the licensing process.

Once the business receives a provisional license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission – following the signing of a host community agreement with the town and the issuance of a special permit from the Planning Board – it will begin construction and open its operation within 180 days.

According to a business plan sent to town officials, the firm will seek to operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The building will have limited access areas for security and operational reasons with “buzz-in” electronic/mechanical entry systems. The firm’s letter to the town details other areas of the operation including odor controls, waste disposal, storage, inventory and transportation of weed.

The store will sell flowers, concentrates and extracts, infused edibles, accessories and branded merchandise with produces coming from its own manufacturing plants as well as other suppliers including providing “priority consideration to product cultivated in Belmont by independent cultivators.”

One area Mint hopes to cultivate is a delivery service which would go counter to one of the two town restrictions placed in the marijuana bylaw; the other being a 25 year old age restriction on the purchase of pot.

In a profile by the Spanish-language press association EFE News, its Arizona operations – located near the Arizona State University – are “visited daily by some 1,000 customers” selling everything imaginable related to the weed “from infusions to cannabis-themed T-shirts and souvenirs.” Mint’s website promotes store proportionals like a “Toasted Tuesday Sale” when customers can purchase “one gram of flower wrapped in Shatter, then submerged in Kief” for “ONLY $25.”

Mint’s most innovative offering is a first-of-its-kind medical marijuana kitchen serving up “blueberry muffins, salad, pizza, and macaroni and cheese with a dash of cannabis.”

Crunching the numbers, the firm expects to spend $1.5 million in capital costs and working capital to open the Belmont store. By its second year, the firm predicts the store will gross $9.5 million with net income of $700,000.

In addition, Mint forecasts Belmont receiving $276,000 in combined local marijuana and community impact taxes in the first year increasing to $660,000 by the fourth year. The firm said it will create 20 new jobs and pay half a million dollars in salaries and benefits.

Mint, which is also seeking to enter the Michigan market in 2020, is seeking to ride the rapidly growing cannabis retail market with forecasts of the total economic output of legal retail pot will skyrocket 150 percent from $16 billion in 2017 to $40 billion by 2021, according to BDS Analytics.

A Detroit native, Sahara started his first business at 19 with a low price auto glass repair operation before heading to Phoenix to start up a number of discount businesses. Sahara is owner of a glass repair operation for the past 11 years achieving $1 million in profits in 2018.

Belmont Votes Today, Tuesday, Sept. 25: Pot Bylaw

Photo: Belmont voters head for the polls today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Belmont votes today, Sept. 25, in a Special Town Election to determine the direction of a marijuana bylaw approved by Town Meeting in the spring.

What does your vote on the ballot question mean?

A Yes vote allows retail marijuana establishments to be licensed in Belmont and limits the number to 20 percent  of the number of “package store” licenses we have issued; currently that calculation would result in up to two licenses. This vote would also prohibit businesses that cultivate, manufacture or test marijuana from being licensed to open in Belmont.

A No vote allows retail marijuana establishments to be licensed in Belmont but there would be no limit on the number of licenses that could be issued. In addition, businesses that cultivate, manufacture or test marijuana could be licensed; likewise, there would be no limit on the number of these licenses that could be issued.

Both Yes and No votes allow the Town of Belmont to create time, place and manner Zoning Bylaws regulating where and how marijuana businesses may operate in Town, but only a Yes vote would let the Zoning Bylaw limit, directly or indirectly, the total number of retail stores allowed in Belmont. The proposed Zoning Bylaw regulating marijuana businesses is expected to be voted at the Special Town Meeting scheduled November 13th.

The Belmont Board of Health has already adopted recreational-use marijuana regulations. Marijuana licenses are issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; they not issued locally.

Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

  • Precinct 1 – Library, Assembly Room
  • Precinct 2 – Town Hall, Selectmen’s room
  • Precinct 3 – Beech Street Center, Multipurpose room
  • Precinct 4 – Butler School, Gymnasium
  • Precinct 5 – Beech Street Center, Multipurpose room
  • Precinct 6 – Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Road
  • Precinct 7 – Burbank School, Gymnasium
  • Precinct 8 – Winn Brook School, Gymnasium (enter on Cross Street)

To find out whether you are registered to vote and where you vote, visit the web page:

Letter To The Editor: Belmont Should Not Place Fear-Based Regs On Burgeoning Industry

Photo: Sample jars at an existing retail operation.

To the editor:

The debate surrounding retail marijuana arises fears of the “undesirable people” that would be brought into town, fear of kids having access to marijuana, and scares about kids seeing marijuana in the window of a store (despite the fact that retailers are not allowed to display any product in the window, or have any signage that indicates that marijuana is sold there). Parents understandably do not want their kids to smoke pot. Thankfully, marijuana will not be any more present in your life, or any kids’ life if you vote ‘no’ to the Special Election Question on Tuesday, Sept. 25. 

Marijuana already exists in Belmont. The contents of the marijuana that kids currently have access to are not regulated whatsoever. Furthermore, the existence of retail marijuana has the chance to dry up the black market for a substance that is generally easier for American children to get than alcohol, which is regularly exposed to children in restaurants, stores, and advertising. 

Much of the conversation regarding this bylaw focuses on the number of retail establishments that would be allowed. I definitely don’t think that there is a market for more than two retail stores in Belmont at the moment. There should be as many establishments as the market demands, and therefore no premature limitation on what is allowed. If a no vote passes, it is highly unlikely that there will be more than two establishments in the foreseeable future.

My primary concern is that there is no logical reason to block cultivators, product manufacturers, or testing facilities. These facilities create jobs, many of which require advanced education and training and pay well. We should allow a burgeoning industry that will create quality employment opportunities in town. 

Good policymaking is evidence based. We should reject regulation that stifles economic development and doesn’t have any foreseeable social or environmental externalities. I would challenge that there is no benefit to voting for these regulations other than to appease personal biases, unfounded fears, and blatant misunderstandings of the implications of this policy. Voting no will allow for increased tax revenue in town, more quality employment opportunities for residents, potentially reduce the market for marijuana on the street, and allow adults to consume marijuana in the safest possible way if they choose to do so.

Jeremy Romanul

Trowbridge Street