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Andrea Cabral of Ascend Cannabis

Former Law Enforcement Official to Lead Massachusetts Cannabis Company

A former prosecutor, sheriff and one-time top public safety official in Massachusetts will lead a unique startup cannabis company there that will do more than just sell marijuana, seeking to provide opportunities for some of those harmed by the war on drugs she once was a part of.

Andrea Cabral was recently named CEO of Ascend Cannabis, which plans to open a grow facility in Athol, Mass., a state that recently legalized non-medical use of marijuana. The company also plans a retail shop in Boston.

The company plans to hire people recently released from jail as workers at its cultivation facility and retail pot shop, Cabral told The Boston Globe in a recent interview.

“This is going to be a very different kind of cannabis company,” Cabral said. “Clearly our purpose is to sell cannabis, but because Massachusetts took such a strong approach to social equity in its regulations, there’s a real opportunity to balance profits against conscience.

“Whole families have suffered for generations because of the way we approached the war on cannabis,” Cabral said. “One of the best ways to break that cycle is to help someone get and maintain a stable job, but that’s usually the hardest condition of probation to meet.”

Ascend Cannabis is still seeking licenses for its facilities, while looking for additional retail locations, the Globe reported. The company was founded by Boston-based investor Abner Kurtin, formerly of the hedge fund Baupost Group.

Cabral also told the newspaper that Ascend will provide grants to nonprofits that work with children whose parents have been incarcerate, and the company is also exploring a loan program to pot entrepreneurs from low-income and minority communities.

Photo: Suffolk University

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