I spent the weekend in Western Massachusetts smoking legal marijuana.
I live in New York where recreational cannabis is still prohibited. But about 100 miles and two hours north in Massachusetts it now is avaialble for adult use. Voters in the Bay State passed the law in 2016. It took nearly two years for stores to open; there are currently about 50 rec-shops operating in the state.
We left New York at 3 pm and arrived in Great Barrington in the lovely Berkshire Mountains at around 6 pm. It's a 120-mile ride. We checked into the Travelodge at 400 Stockbridge Rd. It's about 100 yards from Theory Wellness, which operates out of what looks like a house at 394 Stockridge Rd.
We stood on line for 20 minutes before entering the small shop. Menus were offered. No strains were visible in jars or display cases. Instead, they were in big plastic tubs. You can look at the well-manicured green buds, but are barely allowed to smell the stuff. No runny noses are allowed near the fresh cannabis. Even worse, you can't see what the concentrates look like at all.
Since supply is in such great demand, this shop only allows you to purchase a quarter-ounce of each stain per visit. We picked two indicas cultivated by Good Chemistry: Hindu Kush, 21.2% TAC, 19.3% THC, no CBD; and Ingrid, 20.4% TC, 19.2% THC, no CBD. At $90 each, it cost $180. Then add $5.40 Great Barrington sales tax, $11.25 Massachusetts sales tax and $19.35 marijuana excise tax to the that. The total was $216.
We also purchased .5g of Bubba x Blockhead wax (79.5% THC, $35) and and a Scott's OG .5g vape cartridge (34.6% THC, $54), both made by Theory Wellness. The total cost was $106.80 ($18.80 in taxes).
A word about TAC or TC: This is a new term, acronym or abbreviation. It stands for Total Active Cannabinoids or Total Cannabinoids. This generaly includes THC, CBD and CBN.
Packed excessively in child-proof bags and containers, we took our ganja goods, walked back to the motel and sampled the products.
The wax was pretty dry but tasty and the Kush and Ingrid were outstanding.
After the session, we strolled in the other direction to Barrington Brewery & Restaurant at 420 Stockbridge Rd. (no kidding about the address). After some decent bar food and brews, and learning that we were in "the Beerkshires," we repaired to the room for a late-night sess followed by needed sleep.
So here's what you should do if you're making a quick visit from New York, New Jersey or Western Connecticut: Book a room at the Travelodge (about $100), visit Theory Wellness, have dinner at the brewery, smoke and dab, then head home in the morning. Or continue on to your next stop, like we did...
Since we were also on a brew-pub tour, we made several stops in Pittsfield (Wandering Star Brewing Co. at 11 Gifford St. and Shire Breu-Hous at 63 Flansburg Ave.). It's about 25 miles north of Great Barrington on Rt. 7.
From there we drove east on Rt. 9 through snowy farmland for 45 minutes to Northamption and went right to New England Treatment Access (NETA) at 118 Conz St. This is big building with a large parking lot and two lines, one for walk-ups like us and the order for pre-orders (yes, you can order online and then pick it up). Again, we received a menu and studied our options. Here, the flower limit per strain is an eighth ounce. Since we'd loaded up at Theory Wellness, we chose just one strain (Master Kush: $21.9% TAC, 20.4% THC, no CBD) and one more wax (Black Triangle Kush: 83.9% THC), both made by NETA. Each cost $50, plus $20 tax, equaling $120. Important note: All stores accept cash and debit cards.
It was another delicious strain, plus the wax was nice and sticky.
Clearly, the farm-to-table flower in Massachusetts is of the highest quality and reasonably priced.
After that, we stopped at Progression Brewery at 9 Pearl St. for beers and a light dinner. We zipped back to our motel in Amherst (University Lodge, 345 N. Pleasant St., also about $100) and sampled the new goodies.
Another note: Since we were traveling with a dog (Rosco), we stayed at motels that allow pets.
Figuring we had enough weed, we planned another brew-pub visit and then back south back to New York. In Easthampton, there's an old red-brick mill in the middle of town that's being renovated called Eastworks. It houses a restaurant (Riffs Joint), two breweries (Abandoned Building at 142 Pleasant St. and New City at 180 Pleasant St.) and, to our surprise, a rec shop named INSA (for indica and sativa) at 122 Pleasant St.
We took a brief tour of the store, but didn't make any further purchases. The good news is they display the strains in cases, so you can see them and they list terpenes as well as cannabinoids.
Right next door, the Abandoned Building Brewery is a strange cinder-block add-on to the original brick building. It was the hippie-est of the breweries we visited, with dogs and kids everywhere. But the flavors did not compare with the others, especially Shire Brew-Hous' in Pittsfield.
A winter weekend in New England is for the hearty traveler who doesn't mind cold temps and snow. For us, it was a treat, especially standing on icy lakes and learning how to lure the fish out of dug-out holes. That was a highlight, along with experiencing our new freedoms in the Northeast.
Until adult-use legalization comes to New York, we'll make periodic visits and spend our cannabis cash up north. If you see a line outside a store in Massachusetts, trust me, it's a weed shop!