Some members of the state’s cannabis community are calling for a boycott of NETA after the parent company of the Massachusetts dispensary has fired Kim Napoli, a member of its leadership team.
Napoli was the senior director of corporate social responsibility and community affairs for Parallel, the parent company of NETA. A NETA spokesperson said Napoli is leaving her role because of a Parallel conflict of interest policy.
“Kim’s husband has had a hemp-based clothing business in Massachusetts since 1995. Recently, this business opened a cannabis dispensary that directly competes with our nearby dispensary in Northampton,” the statement said. “Our company Conflicts of Interest policy does not allow Kim to continue in her current role. We would not be compliant with our own policy that all of our employees are required to follow. Kim has contributed much to our organization, and we want to thank her for all she has done.”
Napoli’s husband, Jonathan Napoli, is listed in Northampton city records as the treasurer of The Hempest, a recreational cannabis dispensary. The Hempest received authorization to open in February from the state Cannabis Control Commission.
On Tuesday afternoon, a phone call to Napoli went unanswered.
Jonathan Napoli told The Boston Globe that his wife had disclosed to NETA that he was planning to sell cannabis at The Hempest, even though she was not involved in that project.
The Hempest at 2 Conz St. is about 0.4 of a mile, or a one-minute drive, from NETA’s shop at 118 Conz St., according to a Google Maps estimate.
Part of Napoli’s role was in equity initiatives, including a grant program that offered funding to economic empowerment or social equity cannabis licensees for the purchase of security equipment.
“Our commitment to social equity in cannabis remains steadfast. We are grateful to Kim for helping us build a foundation that supports our mission,” the NETA statement continued. “We are involved in local community efforts and initiatives through our NETA Cares team, and those efforts will only strengthen over time. We also have national advocacy partnerships with groups such as the Minority Cannabis Business Association and Cannaclusive that will further advance our social equity programs.”
Napoli’s firing has happened as her young daughter, Shea, has been fighting a rare form of pediatric leukemia, according to a GoFundMe page to raise dollars to help support the family.
Grant Ellis is among members of the state’s cannabis community now organizing a boycott of NETA, citing Napoli’s firing while her daughter is in the hospital.
“NETA/Parallel’s decision to fire Kim, while Kim’s 1 year-old daughter is fighting acute megakaryoblastic leukemia in the hospital with Kim by her side, is unconscionable,” Ellis said Tuesday. “NETA/Parallel’s behavior related to this firing, along with a laundry list of employee health and safety complaints dating back years, led directly to the decision to launch the NETA/Parallel boycott today. For any company to treat their employees in such a way reflects the very worst form of corporate cannabis greed.”
Last year, NETA was accused of anti-union tactics, facing allegations that employees were fired or threatened over collective-bargaining efforts.
NETA denied those claims.
“We support everyone’s right to join or not join a union, but because NETA already offers progressive wages and benefits, as well as a collaborative work environment, we don’t think a union is needed,” NETA said in a statement at the time. “We are in the middle of a union-organizing campaign and union tactics such as filing complaints are not uncommon.”
In November 2018, NETA opened its doors to customers in Northampton, one of the first two adult-use cannabis shops to open on the East Coast.