January 16, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Worcester marijuana grower preparing to open

Courtesy
Kris Krane, co-founder and President of 4Front Ventures.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month rescinded the Cole Memo, a set of guidelines from former U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole suggesting the federal government not interfere in the legitimate cannabis industry in states where voters had legalized it in some capacity. Kris Krane, president and co-founder of 4Front Ventures opening a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Worcester, said he's not worried about the feds cracking down on his business.

What is 4Front Ventures looking to do?

We control one of the licenses in Worcester for Mission Massachusetts, a nonprofit subsidiary of 4Front. We're licensed to open a cultivation facility and dispensary in Worcester at 640 Lincoln St.. It's currently under construction.

Right now, you're calling it a medical marijuana facility. Does the company plan to venture into the recreational market?

It's certainly something we'll take a look at. We've got six months to make a final decision.

Has any of this talk of a federal crackdown on marijuana worried you or the company about doing business in Massachusetts?

For now, it hasn't changed anything. One of the benefits companies have in Massachusetts is that right now, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that protects medical marijuana companies from prosecution is still in place, and we expect it will remain in place.

As long as that is the case, the federal government is prohibited by law from cracking down on the medical marijuana business.

How does that help the Massachusetts recreational market?

There will not be recreational businesses until at least July. We have the luxury in Massachusetts of being able to watch how it plays out in the six states with recreational markets.

Does this increase the anxieties of someone looking to run one of these companies after investing time and money into it?

No, it didn't. I've been working on this issue for over 20 years. A move like this by the U.S. Department of Justice, while disappointing, creates an opportunity for us to create real and longer-lasting change in Congress that ultimately could wind up being better for businesses.

How about U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's statement that nobody is immune to prosecution for a federal marijuana crime?

Virtually every U.S. attorney has made statements. One thing every U.S. attorney said is they aren't going to unilaterally wave their discretion. Lelling's statement was a little bit stronger than those folks.

It's important to note what he didn't say: going after state licenses. That would be very challenging politically, and he would face massive backlash.

We did see Cory Gardner, the Republican senator from Colorado, come out and say he's opposed to the federal crackdown and will hold up appointments to the DOJ. Could we see some bipartisan movement to some kind of legislation?

I do think one of the potential opportunities we now have - it really galvanized a lot of folks in D.C., particularly the GOP, which had been quiet on the issue, to now call for some sort of fix. They're upset about it from the states' rights perspective.

There's a good possibility this action by the DOJ will galvanize support for Congress to extend protections to the adult-use business.

This interview was conducted and edited for clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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