WORCESTER — Alex Mazin proudly pointed out the high ceilings of the future cannabis retail space, noted that the diagonal storefront walls will be replaced to restore the original lines of the historic building, and – going outside – pointed out that the fencing around the future parking lot will all be replaced and new. That was a point he had made before. Twice.
“It’s like having bad front teeth,” Mazin said, chuckling, when asked why he was so excited about replacing degraded fencing.
“I’m trying to fix this corridor a bit,” continued Mazin, CEO and president of Bud’s Goods and Provisions. “This is a much larger project than a retail cannabis dispensary … it’s more of a project to revitalize what I think should be a vibrant area of Worcester.”
Mazin, 32, would know, as the project is also a bit of a homecoming for the Doherty Memorial High School graduate, who lives in Needham. In fact, he said he bought his first snowboard in the space he is outfitting. He also plans to convert the vacant lot next door to parking and use the first floor of the adjacent three-decker as office space.
The legal cannabis industry was a logical progression for Mazin.
Mazin’s first career was as a health care consultant in New York, focused on emerging markets and emerging technologies.
“Cannabis was always being discussed,” Mazin said. “Everybody knows someone who consumes cannabis.”
In 2014, Mazin started a company making silicone accessories for vaping products under the brand name VaprCase. The products were sold in about 3,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, Mazin said.
When Massachusetts legalized marijuana in 2016, Mazin saw an opportunity to come back home. Although initially focused on medical marijuana, he recently rebranded the company to focus on recreational pot.
“Playing a role to normalize cannabis in our society is a big part of our mission,” Mazin said. “I felt that changing our name and making it a little more normal was fulfilling our mission to normalize cannabis in society.”
He also said he is launching a group called the Worcester Cannabis Association, which will bring cannabis businesses together to work with the city.
Mazin said he hopes to finish construction at the site at 62-68 West Boylston St. by February and be ready for the Cannabis Control Commission’s inspection. He hopes to open the dispensary in the spring.
“To be able to come back and to spark a redevelopment, I think, on West Boylston Street is what the mission is really about,” Mazin said. “It’s like someone coming back to their roots and giving back to the community and doing what I think I do well, start businesses, create jobs, give back to the community … This is a personal thing for me.”