Why this Center City medical marijuana dispensary is closing on 4/20

After the biggest cannabis shopping day of the year, the business will shutter after its landlord cut the lease short.

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The outside of Ethos Cannabis

Ethos Cannabis is closing its flagship medical marijuana dispensary in Center City Philadelphia this week. (Kristen Mosbrucker-Garza/WHYY News)

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After four years in operation, Philadelphia-based Ethos Cannabis will close its flagship Center City retail location on the ground floor of the American Postal Workers House.

However, this won’t take effect until close of business on April 20, which is coincidentally 4/20 — a date synonymous with cannabis and known as the busiest day of the year for dispensaries, celebrating the popular marijuana holiday.

When it’s over, 11 employees at the retail store near 8th and Locust streets will lose their jobs, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing.

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The company said it was “committed to supporting our team members during this transition” and workers will be paid through May.

The business is exploring a replacement location but that might not be in Center City, said Gibran Washington, Ethos Cannabis CEO.

That’s because medical marijuana patients often shop close to home as opposed to convenience shoppers in a recreational adult use marijuana market, he said.

“A lot of people work in Center City but not a lot of people live there,” he said.

The decision to shutter was not due to poor sales or foot traffic but the building owner cutting short the company’s lease by several years.

“The financing that [the building owner secured] does not allow for cannabis companies in the building,” Washington said.

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When Ethos Cannabis opened the location in January 2020, the building was operated by Berger Associates Realty. About two years later, New York-based Hudson Valley Property Group acquired the building for $120 million.

Hudson Valley Property Group declined to comment on this story through a spokesperson.

Once known as the American Postal Workers House, the affordable housing complex for seniors with nearly 300 units, is slated to undergo renovations.

The Hudson Valley Property Group’s $20 million renovation plans include energy efficiency upgrades, security cameras and retrofitted apartments. The developer is seeking 4% low-income tax credits, which is a financing program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania but it’s still against federal law. In 2014, HUD decided that no individual residing in its properties can consume marijuana.

“I don’t feel that we’re being evicted. I feel that we’ve come to a joint agreement,” Washington said. “It’s always a challenge to find places at least in cannabis.”

Pennsylvania law prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a public, private, parochial school or day care center.

Ethos Cannabis runs dispensaries near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport and in Montgomeryville. Overall, it has 12 more dispensaries across its footprint in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachuestts. The company’s growing facility sits in Bucks County in the census designated place known as Fairless Hills.

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