A new type of family business has set up shop in Newton.
With a recently redesigned, modern white facade, the Green Lady Dispensary celebrated its grand opening with a three-day block party to commemorate its status as the first woman- and minority-owned dispensary in the city.
“People from all walks of life enjoy cannabis,” said Cleantha Campbell, the general manager of the Newton store. “It’s not specific to one age group. So, that’s why we chose Newton. We felt like it was a diverse, welcoming neighborhood.”
The Campbell family is used to working together. Parents Rupert and Nicole started out in the fertilizer business, but they decided to make a leap with their daughters, Cleantha and Corbet, when Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, according to Nicole.
“Massachusetts was just coming out with the regulations and laws to do cannabis recreationally,” Nicole said. “So we decided to get involved in this brand new emerging industry that, you know, … young people, rightfully … think is very exciting.”
The family’s first location—which is located on Nantucket—was the 23rd dispensary to open in Massachusetts. But, it was the first woman- and minority-owned dispensary in the state, according to Cleantha.
“[It] feels good, you know, being not only a family-owned business, but a women-owned business and a minority-owned business,” Cleantha said.
Their inspiration to start the business comes from Rupert’s Jamaican roots, according to Cleantha. Her father’s culture influenced their outlook on cannabis, she said.
“My father’s from Jamaica originally,” said Cleantha. “So you know, his culture has a background in cannabis with Bob Marley and all the greats who worked hard to legalize cannabis. So we, as a family, have a close relationship with cannabis.”
One of the largest challenges the family faces is the stigma surrounding the cannabis industry, Nicole said. She said that the historical bias against different groups and communities associated with cannabis has led people to feel negatively about the industry.
“You know, some people who are the most against cannabis have never actually even stepped into a dispensary,” Nicole said. “And I’ve had dispensaries compared to porn shops and, and things like that and I’m like, ‘Have you actually ever walked into a dispensary?’”
The discrimination has affected the business in multiple ways, according to Cleantha.
“My fiance was trying [to work] with local farms to buy wholesale apples and pumpkins and stuff for, because we like to do events in this industry,” Cleantha said. “So farms wouldn’t sell to us because we’re cannabis, for example.”
Despite the issues Cleantha raised about entering the cannabis industry, Vincent Dedomenico, an employee at The Green Lady, said he sees the positive impact the dispensary has on customers every day.
“One thing I love about working in this industry is people come in here [and] their day is just alright or so-so,” Dedomenico said. “But then when they walk out, they have a big smile on their face.”
While the Campbells hope more people become educated about the cannabis industry, they are turning their focus to deepening connections with the Newton community through fall events and collaborations with other local businesses.
“We’re trying to build this location out in the sense of being part of the community,” Nicole said. “We have a lot of fun events that we have scheduled. For example, in October, we’re going to be doing an apple cider donut and an apple day to kind of celebrate the fall.”
Since the grand opening, Nicole said The Green Lady has experienced strong support from other small businesses in the Newton community.
“I think that all the small businesses in Newton Centre just really want a vibrant downtown that people come to to go shopping and walking and eating, and enjoying themselves,” Nicole said. “So I think they’re very supportive as long as we, you know, contribute to the community in a positive way.”