Going the Distance for Grass in Massachusetts

Nothing theoretical bounced off the four walls of Theory Wellness, a popular cannabis dispensary, not far from the French Cafe on Main Street where I had lingered over a croissant and a cafe au lait. I was in the middle of my vacation. I might have taken a break from cannabis, but what was the point? I wanted to taste the local foods, drink the local spirits and smoke the local weed.

I stood online and gazed around the room.

Yes, the activities were all mercantile and practical, not theoretical. The budtenders talked about products and prices, the medical and recreational marijuana users asked questions about THC and CBD, and paid in cash and with debit cards.

Products flew off the shelves, out the front door and into the parking lot filled with vehicles. It felt good to be 3,000 miles from home and to be able to buy cannabis legally at prices I could afford. No anxiety, no paranoia. I must have been the only Californian inside Theory, but the other consumers seemed like soul mates. We had at least one big thing in common. 

I was doing what cannabis columnists are often obliged to do on vacation. Buying pre-rolled joints. I happened to be in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which became the 18th state in the U.S. to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis, in 2016. Nearby states like New York still haven’t given their stamp of approval to the crop that has swept across the country thanks to activists, lobbyists, scientists and users.

I asked one of the budtenders, a guy with tattoos and piercings, “Do consumers drive here from other states to get their drug of choice?” He looked at me like I was from Mars. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “People drive hundreds of miles to get to Theory. They come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, President Biden’s state.” Indeed, Massachusetts, otherwise known as “The Commonwealth” and one of the original 13 colonies, is a destination for potheads and medical marijuana users from all over the Eastern Seaboard.

Two dear friends had driven me to Theory. They’re not stoners, but they decided to buy gummies and cannabis-infused chocolates so they could offer them to guests over the Massachusetts’ summer when everything is green, corn grows tall and tourists like me mix with locals who love pot.

In my friends’ home, I fired up a joint, smoked about half and got stoned, pleasantly. It was good to know that Massachusetts weed worked as well and as fast as California weed. There was no point competing. We are all sojourners in the great, unwashed cannabis culture that can be theoretical if you want it to be.

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.”

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