Leah Samura’s mission is to sell cannabis to your friends, parents and grandparents. Photo courtesy of Leah Samura
Harvard Square’s first cannabis dispensary — and its first Black-woman-owned business — is on track to open in September, CEO Leah Samura tells Axios.
Driving the news: Yamba Boutique is undergoing architectural review as Samura prepares for its opening.
- It would be the city’s second dispensary. Central Square’s Yamba Market — owned by Samura’s husband, Sieh, and their business partner, Sean Hope — was the first.
Why it matters: The state’s fast-growing cannabis industry remains predominantly white and male, with Black and brown entrepreneurs mostly shut out of financing and commercial real estate opportunities.
- The state has an application process for license holders who were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, or who live in communities affected by it.
- But those applicants often wait years to get approved for a cannabis license while paying rent on empty storefronts, as the Samuras and Hope have.
Zoom out: Massachusetts businesses collectively surpassed $3 billion in gross recreational cannabis sales in May, less than a year after hitting the $2 billion mark.
- The state collected more than $112 million in excise tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales in 2021 — more than twice as much as regulators projected.
The intrigue: Samura says Yamba Boutique will cater to women, elders and LGBTQ people.
- “I want [it] to be a space where those of us who are often left out can have a comfortable space to ask questions, be educated,” Samura says, adding that she wants to promote cannabis as a sex-positive product and a healing agent.
Details: The 12,000-square-foot boutique occupies a former police station, and will include educational events on the second floor.
- Samura plans to hire 20-24 employees.
Context: Samura and her husband have broken barriers before.
- They launched 612 Studios and developed the state’s first cannabis-infused lubricants, Purient Bedroom Cannabis, under the Sira Naturals accelerator four years ago.
Plus: Samura is also working to open a dispensary in Allston in 2023 with Louis Freese, also known as the rapper B-Real of the hip-hop group Cypress Hill. She is the CEO and majority owner at the dispensary, where she’ll sell Freese’s brand, Dr. Greenthumb’s.
- The Samuras are also working with the Williamstown-based cannabis company Silver Therapeutics, which is opening its first Boston dispensary in Roslindale, to lead Silver Therapeutics’ City Farm program to educate prospective budtenders.
- The educational program aims to serve more than 150 local residents a year, according to Silver Therapeutics’ website.
What’s next: Samura is awaiting the green light from regulators to move forward with Yamba Boutique, with a decision expected later this summer.
Axios Boston | Jun 27, 2022 – Business | Written By Steph Solis