WORCESTER — What’s in a name? If it’s a marijuana business, Cannabis Control commissioners warned that it had better not sound too medical or appealing to children.
Commissioners approved 34 new provisional licenses for marijuana businesses at their Thursday meeting at Union Station, including 15 licenses among nine businesses in Worcester County.
One local license applicant, Magic Dragon LLC at 61 Fremont St., Worcester, received conditional approval for microbusiness cultivation and product manufacturing, but commissioners let the applicant know they weren’t happy with the name.
Magic Dragon is owned by David Aiello, according to CCC documents.
CCC regulations prohibit the use of medical symbols, images of marijuana or related paraphernalia that are appealing to people under age 21, and colloquial references to cannabis and marijuana from use in a business name or logo.
“I have serious concerns with the name of this entity,” Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan said. “It appeals to children.”
Commissioner Britte McBride pulled a children’s storybook out of her bag, a colorful tale of “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” Several commissioners alluded to the 1960s song of that title, written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, which some have speculated referred to marijuana.
Commissioners voted to approve the provisional license, with the additional condition that staff speak with the applicant about the issue surrounding its name.
Other applicants, including Ipswich Pharmaceutical Associates in Hinsdale and Rowley, and Caregiver-Patient Connection (doing business as Local Roots) in Framingham have also received criticism from commissioners because of their name potentially running afoul of regulations.
“It ultimately is a judgment call on the part of the commission,” Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said to reporters. “And so our staff is going to work with the license applicant. If they make the change, fine, if they don’t make a change, when it comes time to vote on the final license, we’ll make a judgment, but it’s a judgment call.”
He said, “It’s very important that this is an adult industry, that marketing and branding is targeted to people over 21. And I take that very seriously.”
Hoffman also spoke about progress being made in bringing more economic empowerment applicants, those who had been harmed by previous punitive drug laws, into the industry.
Shortly before Thursday’s meeting, regulators gave Pure Oasis LLC its letter to commence operations, giving the green light to open the first retail marijuana store in Boston as well as the first economic empowerment shop in the state.
Hoffman said he hoped to continue that progress statewide. Only 29 economic empowerment applicants have submitted complete applications from among 120 who were given priority status for economic empowerment.
On Wednesday, the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy released a redrafted bill that seeks to solidify the CCC’s program that offers training and assistance to entrepreneurs from communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition into state law and make it easier for those applicants to access the capital necessary to launch a successful venture — both priorities of CCC leadership, State House News Service reported.
The committee bill would also establish a Social Equity Loan Fund that could provide no-interest loans to social equity and economic empowerment program participants. The bill calls for 10 percent of the revenue generated by the state’s 10.25 % marijuana-specific excise tax to flow into the fund as long as there are matching donations from private sources.
Hoffman, who announced he was exactly halfway through his five-year term, said he was “deeply grateful” for that action by lawmakers, calling lack of financing the primary barrier to economic empowerment applicants completing the licensing process. He said he would also like to see the municipal process across the state become easier for people to get through.
Two social equity applicants in Templeton received provisional licenses Thursday: Royalston Farm LLC, 1 Valley Drive, was approved provisionally for a cultivation tier 2 indoor license and a product manufacturing license. Tempest Inc., 248 Gardner Road, was approved provisionally for a retail license. Both businesses are owned or directed by Damon Schmidt, Mark Vlachos, Ronald Baldwin and Jordan Willetts.