Just in; Owner Of Worcester Dispensary Resinate Calls Police In Response To Peaceful, Farmer-Led, Protest At Corporate Cannabis 'Farmers Market'.

Decision to call in police on peaceful protestors sparks fierce backlash in local grassroots community

Local advocates Averyl Andrade (LEFT) and Ominique Garner (RIGHT) protest outside of the Resinate dispensary 'Farmer's Market'. 10/16/2021

A co-owner of Worcester dispensary Resinate, along with a staff member, were caught on video aggressively confronting, and then calling police about, a group of peaceful protestors on Saturday outside of an event the dispensary had termed - much to the consternation of local farmers and advocates - a 'farmer's market'.

As that highly controversial Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA)-affiliated "Farmer's Market" unfolded, video captured by witnesses and advocates on the scene confirm that police were called by the company on a group of peaceful protestors after a discussion with Resinate co-owner Peter DeCaro. The protestors were holding signs on a public sidewalk adjacent to the venue in opposition to what some attendees labeled a “blatant corporate appropriation of the phrase ‘Farmer’s Market’.”

That call to police, for some, brought up worrisome memories of when a large group of brick and mortar dispensary owners attempted to align themselves with anti-cannabis lawmakers on Beacon Hill in a failed bid to get law enforcement more involved in a “task force” to target the unregulated cannabis market (a move seen by many in the community as a direct affront to the roots of the movement which legalized the plant to begin with).

Nathan Andrade, local farmer, activist and cannabis equity applicant, helped to organize the protest and told me; "[w]e showed, in numbers, to stand against corporate cannabis attempting to manipulate the farmers market system to their benefit while actively working to undermine farmers."

Witnesses confirm that not only were the police called by Resinate staff, but that an owner and staff member of the company confronted protestors in an aggressive manner before that call to the police was made. Videos posted on social media confirm witness accounts of the initial interaction.

Based on two further witness accounts, members of Resinate staff approached protestors who were standing on public property and holding signs.

At that point, those Resinate staff were heard asking protestors something to the effect of; "Are you really here just because of the name 'Farmer's Market'?" and "Do you think you [farmers] own the term Farmer's Market?"

In response, protestors were heard asking company representatives if there was any agricultural produce or farmers of any kind at this so-called "Farmer's Market", to which a staff member was heard to say "no".

An unnamed security officer outside of Resinate dispensary begins to confront protestors. 10/16/21

Protestors, in turn, were heard explaining to the company that giant corporate operators -- who can legally sell a product that others are still, to this day, being sent to jail around the country simply for possessing -- using the term "Farmer's Market" to describe an event run by companies worth, in some cases, tens of millions of dollars, with no farmers involved, is an abuse of the term and constitutes an aggressive form of appropriation.

At some point in the discussion, Resinate staff were heard by witnesses asking if the protestors had a permit in their possession and, when the answer came back in the negative, police were then called.

Police left the scene soon after and no action was taken, as one would expect under the fairly onerous standards imposed on government agencies in the context of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Ominique Garner, one of the organizers of the protest and a local farmer who advocates for equity, market access and racial justice in the cannabis sector said her frustration with the event was rooted in the blatant disregard of community input demonstrated by Resinate and their dispensary partners,

"At the end of the day this behavior is disgusting”, said Garner, “This cannabis industry was built on the back of

farmers who are already being exploited in the traditional agricultural space and that is why we, specifically, were placed at the center of the law that legalized adult use cannabis in this state.”

Garner continued, "[t]his is clearly appropriation because socially disadvantaged farmers are being decimated, after being promised access to this new market, and now these corporate actors in the cannabis industry are

basically dancing on our graves while using a term that is sacred to us.”

Other advocates in the grassroots cannabis community were also shaken at the news, including
Lorna McCafferty who lives in the area and testified previously in support of multiple community initiatives at legislative and regulatory hearings. Said McCafferty, "[i]t was because of decades of direct action, peaceful, protest that dispensaries like Resinate were able to operate to begin with. To see a disrespect of that legacy, directed towards members of our very own grassroots community no less, shocks the conscience."

A request for comment has been sent to Resinate after initial emails to a listed inbox were returned as undeliverable and this story will be updated.

Resinate part-owner Peter DeCaro confronts protestors outside of Saturday's 'Farmer's Market'. 10/16/21

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