ADAMS — When pressed Tuesday on his qualifications to run a proposed cannabis dispensary, Kerry Raheb leaned on the two decades he spent working as a stockbroker.
At times, Raheb found himself raising his voice over those asking questions at a community outreach meeting, which around 20 people attended in the Adams Visitors Center.
A Vermont man who seeks to open a retail cannabis business in Adams is also a candidate for U.S. Senate who has falsely claimed that vaccines spread COVID-19 and that the District of Columbia is short on testosterone. He goes before a community outreach meeting Tuesday at the Adams Visitors Center.
Raheb, of Vermont, is the sole owner of Indica LLC and is looking to open a retail store at 127 Columbia St. While the Adams store would be his first in the industry, Raheb plans to open three stores in Massachusetts, three in Maine and three in Vermont.
“As far as running a business, this is simple,” Raheb said. “I can run 10 of these. I plan on running 10 of these.”
Raheb said he ran a private jet business and pointed to his experience as a stockbroker as evidence of his credentials.
Some residents, however, pushed Raheb on his background and whether he could run the business successfully.
“I took the liberty to Google your name, and it’s not very attractive, nor is it from the Vermont Political Observer,” said one man, who said his name was Art after Raheb asked.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website shows four customer disputes for excessive or unauthorized trading from Raheb’s time as a broker. Two were settled, one was closed without any action, and another was withdrawn. The site also lists a civil judgment from 2013 and a criminal matter from 1993 in which all charges were dropped.
Raheb has denied any wrongdoing in the complaints, alleging that customers complained after suffering losses due to market conditions.
When the man asked Raheb about tax liens listed on another online database, Raheb asked, “Seriously?”
“I wouldn’t be opening up a marijuana business and also running for the U.S. Senate in Vermont if I had anything to hide,” Raheb said.
Raheb made frequent reference to his greater-than-required promised donations to the town, which would total $15,000 in the first year of operation, $20,000 in the second and $25,000 in the third. Raheb also said he plans to donate a to-be-determined percentage of his profit to the town.
“This is the same business if I opened up a stock business,” Raheb said.
Myra Wilk pushed Raheb on his ability to run the business, characterizing his business experience as “minimal.”
“Adams has been fed a lot of things by a lot of people who are going to come in and just create things in this town, and you’ve listed thousands of dollars [in donations],” Wilk said.
Raheb repeated his private jet business experience and investment banking experience and asked Wilk, “Are you here to hurt me or trying to help the community?”
“This to me is easy,” Raheb said of running the business. “It’s a piece of cake. It’s not a challenge at all. The challenge is getting your license from the state.”
Wilk serves as the town moderator and is a former Select Board member.
Before he can operate the business, Raheb would need to receive a retail license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. From the Planning Board in Adams, he needs a special permit and site plan approval.
When asked how he would balance the work of running for Senate in Vermont with operating a business in Adams, Raheb responded that his focus is the store.
Residents also asked Raheb how he has gauged the demand for a dispensary in Adams. Unless visitors come to Adams from the east, they would have to pass dispensaries north of Adams, either in Williamstown and North Adams, or south of Adams in Lanesborough.
Raheb said he expects to pull in more revenue than Silver Therapeutics in Williamstown and Clear Sky Cannabis in North Adams, adding: “You have to pass us to get there from the south, so I think we’re going to do more than they do.”
Raheb said he does not expect any issues with odor, security or traffic for the town. All products are prepackaged and kept under lock and key, there will be 24/7 surveillance, and the parking lot and adjacent lot will provide sufficient space to accommodate visitors, he said.
He has a three-year lease for the first floor at the Columbia Street building, with an option for another five, he said.
Raheb added that he plans to help beautify the street as well as allow artists to sell their work at the store when it opens.