HANSON – Ralph and Alli Greenberg, co-owners of Impressed LLC returned to the Select Board, Tuesday, Sept. 13 to provide an update on their plan to expand their cannabis business at 15 Commercial Way to include a delivery component as well as the grow facility already approved by the town.
Joining Ralph Greenberg in meeting virtually with the board were their equity partner Shanel Lindsay and consultant Ezra Parzybok.
Select Board members had asked last month that the Greenbergs provide: projected financials for the grow facility; projected financials for the delivery service; and the framework of the delivery service, its rules of engagement and any other information that would be important for the board to know.
The proposal is on the Oct. 3 special Town Meeting.
Select Board Chair Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said Impressed and its partner firm La Flora LLC have provided a great deal of in-depth documentation on paper to town officials.
“I’m hoping that you guys are thinking about having somebody at Town Meeting in case there are questions that come up,” she said after the presentation. “As much as we tried to own everything you just said, we’re not going to do it as much justice as you folks would.”
“The one thing I wanted to get out of this tonight and going into Town Meeting, is we really need those [financial] numbers,” said Select Board member Ann Rein said. “I’m telling you right now that townspeople are going to want to see that there’s a real benefit to this. You’ve got a tough fight on your hands if you don’t have some concrete numbers to give to them.”
She also said residents would have to understand the difference between the cultivation business already approved, and the delivery license they now seek.
FitzGerald-Kemmett agreed, noting that it cannot be stressed enough that it is not going to be a brick-and-mortar store.
“What was an eye-opener to me is medical deliveries have been happening all along and we didn’t even know it because it’s very discreet,” she said.
Select Board member Jim Hickey asked questions about town revenue vs the company’s net income growth projections. The figures are based on retail figures, FitzGerald-Kemmett suggested.
Hickey also said questions would also include what drivers would be paid, hours of operation and some other details, which FitzGerald-Kemmett said appear to be included in the documentation supplied to the board.
Changing government regulations and a possible federal legalization could also have an effect, Parzybok said. Lindsay said they also envision higher set-up expenses in the first year.
Select Board member Joe Weeks said that, while some at Town Meeting will oppose a cannabis business no matter what, and some will urge approval of marijuana in all it’s forms, the vast majority will have to be convinced.
“The town wants to make sure from seed-to-sale that it is not going to fall into the wrong hands,” he said, noting that they want to see that the regulatory documents are Impressed’s policies and procedures to keep the town’s kids safe.
“One of the things I have experience in is not only running a very organically grown, sustainable business, but also a very compliant business and that is what we intend to bring as a partner to Impressed and to the town, a business that is sustainable, that in one that helps the town that helps Impress realize their dream of sustainabilty and also brings needed revenue to the town,” Lindsay said.
Ralph Greenberg said he thought the board should first know a little bit more about the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) and how they work. The commission conducts a post-final license inspection, which gives businesses the ability to sell product. Some of the product already grown has been inspected and is ready for sale.
The test results provide the business; pricing structure that users and wholesalers will pay.
“I don’t think it’s really prudent to give you a projection [for that reason],” he said. “It will really be a novelty number and it would be fraudulent for me to say anything to you and give you a number as a projection. The market has changed dramatically in the last couple of months.”
Greenberg said that adding a delivery component to the wholesale business could provide them with the profitability from which it would profit.
“I think the big question is, How do we create this delivery component to the Impressed Group and make this the opportunity that we’re all looking for?” Greenburg said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said the board understands what he is saying but that they are being asked to support adding the delivery component, which they are feeling “quite favorably about,” but stressed that an important consideration for voters is how much money it would bring to the town.
“If we’re not getting any kind of projection on the financials, that’s a very difficult position that we’re being put in, as the elected representatives for our constituents, where we literally don’t have any information to give them,” she said. “We’re being asked to take a leap of faith that we’re going to make some money, but we can’t really tell you how much money.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said Select Board members will be expecting at least a low-ball figure that can be presented to Town Meeting within the next couple of years because opponents will attend Town Meeting with made-up numbers in an effort to argue that the town won’t receive enough revenue from the project to make it worthwhile.
“We have nothing to say whether those numbers are correct or not,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “Those numbers would have to come from you.”
Lindsay, a lawyer as well as equity partner with Impressed LLC, has also been involved in the cannabis business for about 10 years, including a patent for a device that allows medical patients and seniors to make cannabis products for their medical needs. She was also asked to help write the law legalizing cannabis for adults over 21. She has been a member of the CCC advisory board during its initial work and was reappointed for a second term during its crafting of the second set of regulations, including those governing delivery. She is also one of the few female owners of a cannabis business, Lindsay said.
“I am also very excited to help and join [a] partnership with one of the very few female growers in the industry, and also a family business,” Lindsay said, noting that hers is a family business, as well.
Parzybok is a licensing and security expert in the field, Lindsay said.
Delivery businesses are only open to people who meet a number of standards regarding their past, the communities they come from and equity in hiring and participation in the industry.
Lindsay’s business, La Flora LLC, is a partner with Impressed LLC.
“It makes a ton of sense for both of us to work hand-in-hand to make sure that all of the product being grown by Impressed makes it out into the marketplace in Massachusetts,” she said. “It’s important to understand that this is a very, very, heavily regulated product that has many layers of tracking and many different layers of technology to make sure that the product does not end up in the wrong hands.”
Parzybok, who is also a cannabis education consultant, outlined the procedures and protocols to ensure product safety in Hanson.
“I’ve made it my mission to see these businesses open in the most compliant way,” he said, while making sure communities understand what that means.
Delivery operator’s licenses are separate from courier licenses, which cover those who deliver product to homes from a retail outlet.
“Delivery operator is a warehouse model, and is a perfect scenario for a partnership with Impressed,” he said. “Medical marijuana is a different legal category, which has the exact same product level.”
The main difference is medical marijuana has a much stronger and has been permitted for home delivery from the start in Massachusetts, for both customer privacy and convenience.
He said 32 percent of adults 21 and older in states where cannabis is fully legal have consumed it in the last six months. Alcohol consumption is at 70 percent, but he said cannabis is closing that gap as a replacement for alcohol.
State regulations govern vehicles — which are unmarked generic-looking passenger vehicles — product storage, facility vaults, driver training, GPS tracking software, manifests, ID checks and state-seed-to-sale tracking. Delivery vehicles must pull into an enclosed facility for loading directly from a vault, to which only specific employees have access.
“I’ve made it my mission to help these businesses get opened in the most compliant way, and also to educate the community — to make sure they understand what that means,” Parzybok said. Medical marijuana, for example, is much stronger than recreational cannabis.
As for hard numbers on local impact revenue the town can expect, he said the market is quite volatile, he said, but estimated net income for the town based on Impressed’s first year is put at $408,297. For the second year it is estimated at $990,848 – $1,091,126 for year three, $1,124,100 in year four and $1,198,195 in year five.
The figures were based on an output of 1,000 of quality product for the first year and the goal of 3,000 pounds of yearly output with a current annual wholesale price of $1,500 to $2,000 per pound. But more producer businesses are coming on board, which is a reason Impressed is seeking a delivery license as well.
“With these figures, we really tried to be conservative,” Lindsay said.
Security cameras and hardwired GPS systems are features of the delivery vehicles, and regulations require licensed agents, who are trained in security practices, to staff the vehicles.
All areas of the business property, inside and out, are also covered by security cameras. Body cameras are also worn by delivery agents, who advise clients, at their doors, that their transactions are being recorded. Little to no cash is used in transactions.
“It’s important to understand that this is a very, very regulated product that has many, many different layers of tracking, many, many, many different layers of technology to make sure the product does not end up in the wrong hands,” Lindsay said.