On November 20th, 2018 Massachusetts sold its very first gram of legal recreational marijuana. I found myself with a little free time right before News Year’s, while visiting family here in Massachusetts, and thought I should check it out. It turns out that one of the first two licensed dispensaries to open for recreational marijuana, Cultivate in Leicester, is a little less than an hour’s drive from where I am staying. So, I went on an adventure.
According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s running tally of all the adult-use marijuana being sold, which they last updated on December 16th, well over $60 million worth of marijuana has been sold since the first sale back in November. Most of those sales have taken place at NETA in Northampton, in the western part of the state, and Cultivate in Leicester in the eastern part of the state near Worcester. A few more dispensaries have started selling adult-use cannabis since then and you can see in the image below from the Cannabis Control Commission website, that sales have steadily increased week-over-week, which surely has to be attributed to additional marijuana stores opening.
When I arrived at Cultivate in Leicester, I had to park at the Everlast Nursery about a half a mile away from the store. It was beautiful for a winter day, in the low 30’s, and I was energized to go find out what buying legal weed was all about in the state I grew up in. I quickly located a white tent where you could wait for a shuttle that would drop you off at Cultivate. A group of us piled into the the white commuter van and everyone was full of smiles and very conversational. A couple of military veterans sat with me that had shopped at Cultivate on the first day of sales in November and they went over everything that I should expect. They had each driven nearly an hour to get there too. Again, everyone was happy and I saw huge smiles everywhere.
Once we were dropped off at Cultivate, we joined a long line outside the store. I met a gentleman while in line named Adrian Minervini that had already visited Cultivate a number of times. “I was here on week one, and probably too many times to count afterwards. There selection has been absolutely phenomenal, it’s nothing that your neighbors could get…let’s say. Keeps me coming back. The quality is something.” We were given green tickets with numbers they collected before entering, and were shown menus.
Cultivate has a tremendous variety of strains, but on the day I went they had four marijuana strains for us to choose from. Massachusetts allows marijuana dispensary patrons to purchase as much as an ounce of marijuana at a time, but due to demand they would only sell us an 1/8 of an ounce and up to two 1 gram pre-rolls.
The inside of the store was very nice. They have a rectangular room with an L-shaped counter space and there were eight budtenders at work. The prices were steep at $60 for an ounce and $19 for a pre-roll but it would have been challenging to find anyone there that had any problem with paying those prices for legal weed. Marijuana is incredibly popular in the northeast and arrests and convictions for marijuana possession has been a real problem for nearly a century for many people.
They had a glass case display of the wide variety of strains offered at Cultivate, however due to demand they were only offering the 4 strains. They were very interested in turnover as I could see the line was only getting longer behind me. I figured getting there when they open at 11 would be my best shot at the shortest lines, but some people standing in line with me that had been there before suggested that later in the day would be better. My budtender quickly explained my options describing sativa dominant hybrid strains like Durban Poison as a daytime strain and the indica dominant hybrid strain I ended up choosing, Dream Lotus, as being a night time strain.
My overall shopping experience at Cultivate in Leicester, Massachusetts was phenomenal. Buying legal marijuana in the state I grew up in was something I never imagined when I was younger. Everyone I met was very excited about buying legal marijuana and very friendly. I ended up buying an eight of the Dream Lotus, a hybrid between Blue Dream and Bodhii’s Snow Lotus. I also purchased a daytime Durban Poison pre-roll. I’m off to the Patriots game on Sunday and saving the pre-roll for a full day. While the prices were the highest I have ever paid for marijuana from any of the dispensaries I have visited in Colorado, Washington, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Florida and Amsterdam, I paid for it happily. All the marijuana was lab-tested too which is mandated in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts will be a major tourist destination for marijuana enthusiasts on the east coast for a long time. While New York and New Jersey are working on legislation to legalize marijuana in their respective states, it will likely be years before laws are implemented and marijuana sales begin. Massachusetts voters legalized adult-use marijuana back during the 2016 elections and it took them over two years to start selling cannabis. The economic opportunity for Massachusetts is tremendous and the city of Boston is likely to become a major hub for cannabis purchases.
Boston has determined a zoning plan that will allow dispensaries in the most heavily trafficked areas of the city. It has already become a major tech hub and its professional sports organizations have drawn a lot of attention. Fenway Park is one of the most famous baseball parks in the world and the Patriots have been the most dominant football team in the NFL for the last 20 years. With iconic landmarks like Faneuil Hall and Copley Place, along with amazing restaurants, tourists now have every reason to visit this progressive city. Marijuana legalization in Massachusetts is a huge step for the Bay State that will make this history rich state even more memorable.