Cannabis Commission turning to Worcester for new headquarters
BOSTON — Coming soon to Worcester: the Cannabis Control Commission.
The young state agency that oversees the rapidly growing legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts agreed Tuesday to search for a location in Worcester to make its permanent headquarters. The CCC also agreed to find a satellite office near a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority station.
"This is a statewide agency, and it is important that we operate around the state, and we're expected to be around the state," Executive Director Shawn Collins said. "Having a location really in the central part of the state will allow us to get to every corner of the commonwealth with relative ease, and I think also there are cost efficiencies with being out in central Massachusetts."
The CCC unanimously approved the issuance of a request for proposals for just more than 13,000 square feet of office space in Worcester, with a preference for a location that would be accessible by public transportation, and a second RFP for a roughly 5,000-square-foot satellite office within a quarter-mile of an MBTA station.
"Having a satellite office in Boston allows us to keep some personnel in the city of Boston ... and that is intentional, to allow folks to be headquartered here but also to allow for swing space for any professional staff that may need to be in the metro Boston area," the executive director said.
Collins said he expects that he and many of the five commissioners would bounce between the two offices.
When the CCC discussed possible headquarters locations this year, CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman presented a list of possible locations that included downtown Boston, another neighborhood of Boston, the northern suburbs like Malden or Somerville, southern suburbs like Quincy or Braintree, a location in the Route 128 belt like Waltham or Burlington, and somewhere in the MetroWest/I-495 region like Framingham or Westborough.
Worcester was added to the list at the behest of Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan, who previously represented northern Worcester County in the state Senate.
Hoffman said Tuesday that the CCC also wanted to apply its mandate to make the legal marijuana industry open and accessible to communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs to its selection of a headquarters.
"Worcester is one of the communities that has been disproportionately impacted and that was not irrelevant in our thinking," Hoffman said. "It was not the only factor, but it certainly was a major factor in our thinking about where we want to locate our office."
The RFPs are expected to be open for responses for about six weeks before the commission begins the process of visiting potential sites and narrowing its choices. Collins said both RFPs will seek 10-year leases.
The CCC, which was launched in September, began working out of spare cubicles in the state office building at One Ashburton Place. The commission is now housed in temporary offices — the lease ends May 2019 — at 101 Federal St. in Boston's Financial District.
Collins said that the RFPs for permanent space took into account the estimated size of the CCC over the next decade. As of Tuesday, the commission had a total of 13 people on staff, including the five commissioners.
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