The newest industry in the Commonwealth came to Chelsea on Tuesday, as the City’s first cannabis dispensary – an adult-use dispensary on Webster Avenue called The Western Front – opened its doors for business with a unique ceremony not so much celebrating the idea of buying “weed,” but rather the brand-new opportunity it presents to young people of color who might have been marginalized or affected unfairly in the past by the War on Drugs.

Western Front partner Marvin Gilmore cuts the ribbon on the opening of the new cannabis dispensary on Webster Avenue Tuesday morning as City leaders look on. It is the first adult-use marijuana store to open in Chelsea and in the region north of the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.
Western Front partners Dennis Benzan and Marvin Gilmore address the crowd.

Co-Owner Marvin Gilmore, 96, said opening the store was a dream come true for him and for men and women in Chelsea who now had a crack at a new and potentially lucrative career in a product that may – at one time – have gotten them in trouble.

“This is my dream,” he said. “To have lived so long and to see what’s happening here and the changes being made, it’s unbelievable. From my point of view it’s going to help this community and these young people to have a way to get money in their pockets and to buy homes here. Chelsea was one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts and look at it now. With all its achieved, it’s elegant. The sun is shining and the Lord is with us and it’s a new day. Today is our day.”

The ceremony featured most City leaders and several City officials, including Councilors Leo Robinson, Todd Taylor and Judith Garcia – as well as Council President Roy Avellaneda and City Manager Tom Ambrosino. Many from the Chamber of Commerce were also present to celebrate the new industry in town.

Co-owner Dennis Benzan said Chelsea welcomed their company and helped them at every step of the way through what was a multi-year process.

“The process has been smooth so far in the City of Chelsea,” he said. “it’s been a long process, but every single department in Chelsea treated us with dignity and professionally.”

Council President Roy Avellaneda said he expects the store to bring in a lot of new tax revenue that hasn’t been available in the past.

“We’re happy for the jobs,” he said. “There are a lot of Chelsea people working here. It’s not just the jobs though, we’re happy about the taxes so we can pay for our teachers and firefighters and sidewalks.”

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