To help guide out-of-state visitors on their journeys through the best dispensaries in Massachusetts, we’ve put together a list of some of the best and most noteworthy stores in the state, along with some beautiful sights to see along the way.
The icing on the cake is that the state isn’t very big at all; you may be amazed by how much you can experience in a short amount of time.
Although Maine has also passed cannabis legalization, Massachusetts is currently the only state in the Northeast where you can buy legal pot. After residents voted in favor of adult-use in 2016, the state’s first stores opened last November, and there are currently 26 open across the state, with many more on the way. As a result of being the only horse in the race in the region (DC aside, sort of), stores are frequented by tons of out-of-state customers; one store estimated that half of all their customers are coming from New York State.
Opening a legal market in the Northeast has created an insane imbalance of supply and demand that has fueled long lines and a dearth of product. But it has also created a wonderful opportunity for both Massachusetts residents and cannabis consumers from across the region to get their hands on a safe alternative to the black market products available in their home states (although the state’s governor, Charlie Baker, recently enacted a four-month ban on all vapes).
Our tour across Massachusetts begins at the western edge of the state, where a handful of successful stores are turning out incredible products. Theory Wellness, in the quaint town of Great Barrington, has gotten a ton of press for their insanely long lines – on the weekends, it can take over two hours to get in the freakin’ door – and we recommend that you stop by early.
It’s not just the general lack of competition that has made Theory so appealing, however: the decor is tasteful and minimalist and the squad of budtenders posted up behind a long polished counter is a sunny bunch, to say nothing of their wide selection of products. Their line of gummy chews are tasty and well-balanced; they’re a great go-to, especially while the vape pan is in effect.
While Theory Wellness adheres to a conventional dispensary model, Canna Provisions, in the nearby town of Lee, has set up their shop in a novel way, pairing customers with fully autonomous stations, to help speed things up. They have a particularly insane concentrates selection that lives in an old roll-up desk that used to belong to Robert E. Hannon, the blind judge that fined Arlo Guthrie and inadvertently got him out of the Vietnam War, as documented in the troubadour’s sprawling and iconic song “Alice’s Restaurant” (true story). Don’t mean to rub it in or anything, but their sativa-dominant NF-1 cartridge was pure fire.
Northampton, a hub of peak crunchiness that lies 50 miles to the east of Canna Provisions, is also home to one of the state’s first dispensaries: NETA (which was recently sold to Surterra Wellness). Like other dispensaries, it has multiple locations; the other is in the Boston suburb of Brookline.
There’s much to enjoy in town, especially after you’ve paid a visit to NETA. Both Saw Mill Hills and nearby Mount Tom offer gorgeous hikes that are particularly dazzling while the leaves are changing. If your idea of a nice of a cozy afternoon involves being curled up with a book, look no further than the dreamy world of the Book Mill.
Let us continue east on our journey to Boston, land of amazing seafood, beer, The Departed and one other recreational shop (in addition to NETA), Garden Remedies. To avoid the notorious lines that have plagued other stores in the state, Garden Remedies requires all visitors to schedule an appointment in advance.
During a visit to the area last month, I booked an appointment on a Saturday morning for around 5pm the same day. I also brought my parents, for their first dispensary visit; you’re allowed to bring others with you, as long as they don’t purchase anything themselves.
“I expected it to be less businesslike than it was,” my mom told me afterward. “I was probably thinking more of what a head shop was back in the 70’s and 80’s. I was impressed with the security and the professionalism of the person that served us.”
Although it’s currently a moot point, it’s worth noting that the stores only offered Seven East vape cartridges, which only indicate their effects, like “Relax,” instead of any specific strain information. And during our visit, there was only one strain for purchase: Chemdawg 4.
My favorite part of Massachusetts is Cape Cod, the curving landmass that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. While there are currently no shops open on the Cape, rec shop Verilife, in the mainland town of Wareham, is close enough to help you re-stock anything you may have missed on your journey.
From there, Cape Cod is yours to explore. There are nearly infinite views of spots to take in both Cape Cod Bay to one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. If you make it all the way to Provincetown, at the very end of the Cape, you can have both, on either the Dune Shacks Trail or at Race Point. A sunset with a cool sea breeze, and a lobster roll in hand…I can’t think of any better way to end this Massachusetts cannabis odyssey.