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Boston’s first downtown adult-use marijuana store opens around the block from TD Garden

The company is pledging to be respectful of its West End neighbors.

Ascend's storefront on Friend Street in Boston. Courtesy of Ascend

Ascend Wellness Holdings has officially opened its long-awaited recreational marijuana dispensary in downtown Boston.

Located around the corner from North Station and TD Garden at 272 Friend St., the 16,000-square-foot store announced its official opening Monday, after a soft launch last Thursday. According to the company, the multi-floor shop is the largest adult-use marijuana dispensary on the East Coast.

One of the earlier prospective Boston dispensaries on the radar after Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, Ascend will be the city’s fourth recreational pot shop, following stores in Dorchester, East Boston, and Jamaica Plain. But it will also be the first such shop downtown, within walking distance of tourist destinations like Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail.

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AWH founder Abner Kurtin said the shop will “dramatically improve consumer access to high-quality cannabis products in Boston.”

Due to its location, Ascend “strongly” encourages customers to take public transportation rather than drive, though there are many paid parking lots and garages in the neighborhood. According to its website, the store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

After Ascend received final approval from state officials last week, former West End Civic Association president Jane Wilson told the Boston Herald that the shop had committed to minimizing lines and monitoring customers, particularly during events at TD Garden. Long lines were a feature of many of the state’s first adult-use dispensaries in 2018, though demand has eased as more shops have opened around Massachusetts.

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Andrea Cabral, the CEO of AWH subsidiary Ascend Massachusetts and a former Suffolk County sheriff, said in a statement Monday the company will “respect” its neighbors.

“Our compliance record and relationships reflect that,” Cabral said. “We are running professional retail operations and are deeply committed to bettering the lives of our customers and the communities we serve.”

While legal for adults over the age of 21 in Massachusetts, state law still prohibits public marijuana consumption.

AWH, which additionally operates dispensaries in Illinois and New Jersey, is also planning to open shops in Newton and New Bedford (state law caps the number of dispensaries a single company can run at three). The company, which participated in the state’s social equity program, says it has hired a diverse team for its Boston dispensary “that reflects our City.”

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