Cambridge’s first cannabis dispensary goes up in flames in the central square | News

Yamba Market, Cambridge’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, will open in Central Square in early March.

The black-owned business received the green light from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission earlier this month. Entrepreneurs Sean D. Hope and Sieh Samura plan to open the store at 580 Massachusetts Ave.

Hope said he believes the opening of the business will pave the way for future minority-owned businesses to participate in the marijuana market.

“Often people say Cambridge is America’s classroom,” he said. “The lessons learned in this case are that if you provide an opportunity for minorities and small businesses – even during an international pandemic, even when retail really changes, because everyone is so used to using your phones and make you bring things – that an innovative black-owned businesses like Yamba Market can arise and thrive.

Hope’s involvement in the cannabis industry includes legal representation for one of the state’s leading medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries. Samura, a longtime campaigner for cannabis legalization and policy, said he first got involved in cannabis advocacy after learning about the benefits of medical marijuana.

“We have been on the front lines fighting for real social justice,” Samura said. “There are a lot of people who walk into the space, but I represent the people who created this space and maintained it and advocated for this space when it wasn’t cool.”

Hope and Samura’s goal is for Yamba Market to function as both a dispensary and an educational cannabis resource for residents of the greater Boston area, according to Samura.

“We want to be the first place they come to learn about cannabis,” Samura said. “We are an authority on supporting a positive adult cannabis lifestyle and the communities that benefit from it.”

“We normalize, we remove stigma, we change culture, we help people experience cannabis in the best way,” he added.

Hope said Yamba Market differentiates itself from other dispensaries by offering all visitors an “experiential” visit, whether or not they purchase a product. At its entrance, the business has an open space adorned with lounges, artwork and baskets imported from West African artisans.

Attached to the main dispensary is The Joint, an additional space where non-consumer visitors can view artwork, purchase unregulated merchandise, and attend regular art events.

By June, Hope and Samura aim to open their next store – Yamba Boutique – in Harvard Square. The couple also hope to launch “Yamba Life” as a “lifestyle brand, focused on health, wellness, art and creativity.”

—Writer Salaidh A. Perez can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @PerezSalaidh.

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