LGBTQ Business Owners Compete In Lucrative Cannabis Trade

LGBTQ Business Owners Compete In Lucrative Cannabis Trade

APRIL 11, 2020 | By: Mike Givens/TRT Assistant Editor




“We’re leaning on our people in the LGBTQ+ community to help us … ” 


In January, Ture Turnbull was looking for a cannabis-based topical ointment for his mother, who suffers from arthritis. While perusing different cannabis retailers, he noticed that there was a lack of diversity in product offerings and a dearth of information about the healing properties of the plant.


That search affirmed Turnbull’s decision more than a year ago to open a cannabis retail business in Massachusetts. He and his business partner, Wes Ritchie, friends for 12 years, have spent the last year exclusively devoted to opening New England Craft Cultivators. If successful, they will open three stores, one each in the towns of Pepperell and Dracut. The two are currently exploring prospects of a third store in the Boston area.


While the CCC allows a business to have three retail licenses, the owners can also hold licenses in manufacturing, cultivation, and testing. Turnbull and Ritchie are currently exploring the possibility of applying for a cultivation license, which would help supply the three stores they hope to open.


“There’s going to be an educational shift in the market, and that’s really exciting,” Turnbull said.


According to the 38-year-old, as cannabis use becomes more socially acceptable, he wants to play a key role in educating people who are new to the experience about its therapeutic benefits.

People like Turnbull’s mother—specifically, people over the age of 60—have an opportunity to learn about how cannabis can augment pain management practices. Turnbull wants to, “expand an understanding of the market and what kinds of products are out there” for those who may have previously been hesitant to learn about or try cannabis.

“A lot of the consumers weren’t participating in the industry at all because it was involved in the black market, so now there’s a new market of consumers because of the legality issues that are being addressed,” he said, noting his projection that the consumer base for cannabis will only expand in the coming years.


Ritchie said that he is hoping that the larger community will embrace his and Turnbull’s self-professed “gay weed” operation.


“We’re leaning on our people in the LGBTQ community to help us enter the market and we’re hoping that our progress so far will help us be a resource to other nontraditional people trying to enter this industry,” he said.


Likewise, Turnbull wants to be supportive of the “little guys,” other small business owners who are trying to make it in the industry. He sees their business as an opportunity to network, build relationships, and promote small businesses across the state. Ultimately, he wants to impact how the cannabis industry fares across the commonwealth.


“Both Wes and I have come out of government and a social justice background, we are not only excited about getting into this economic opportunity, but also take advantage of the public policy discussion to ensure that the most good comes from this industry,” he said.


The duo said they submitted their full applications for licenses in Pepperell and Dracut at the end of March.


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