We want to welcome you and introduce ourselves. We are Ari and Heidi Zorn, long-time residents of South Egremont, Massachusetts in the beautiful Berkshire mountains. We are both small business owners, with a combined 40 years of experience in the hospitality, fitness and healthcare industries. Ari is a trained chef and personal trainer, and Heidi is a Doctor of Chiropractic. We both are deeply passionate about nature and the environment. We are also intensely focused on community and giving back.
All of our combined passions and interests converged in February of 2019, as we were driving by the long line in front of Theory Wellness, a licensed retail cannabis store in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that had just opened. Seeing the explosive growth of this new industry, we asked ourselves one question: why couldn’t we do that? Why couldn’t we apply for a retail cannabis license and bring that kind of success to our community? This is the journey so far.
“It’s all very complicated”
We immediately began educating ourselves about the licensing process. While others around us fretted and complained about how complicated the process was, we printed a copy of the State Regulations (CMR 500) and began reading, and re-reading, and highlighting, and taking notes. We called on advisors and the relationships we have built within our community and charted our course. Every roadblock became a challenge that made our resolve stronger.
In order to even apply for a license, we needed a location. It had to be more than 500 ft from a school and needed the approval of the abbutters. It turns out, we had the perfect location: we previously looked at this location as the building had been for sale a few years back, it was on the main road, and we already knew we loved the spot. It is the lower level of a beautiful old building abutting Karner Brook.
We had our location, we began the process of applying for a license, first with the Town, then the State. After months of regulations and permit applications and community hearings, we had our Host Community Agreement and our Special Permit. On November 9th we uploaded our application onto the Cannabis Control Commission website. There were over 400 applicants at that time.
Slow But Steady Wins The Race
Anyone who knows us will recognize the importance of the turtle. The symbolism of the slow but steady turtle couldn’t be more apt. While the regulations state that once an application is deemed complete, the CCC has 90 days to award (or deny) a preliminary license, everyone knows that the process is much longer and more drawn out. Many applicants wait for many months or even years for a preliminary license.
This creates a major problem for entrepreneurs – they must have identified and secured a location, but are not able to operate, creating insurmountable costs while you wait for the state to act on your license. But we have a plan. Click here [https://fundanna.com/equity/offer-summary/NewGreen] to read about our desire to include smaller investors from our community in our company gave birth to an innovative approach that we hope will revolutionize the cannabis licensing process for entrepreneurs.
Ari and Heidi Zorn