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Shopping for Adult-Use Cannabis in Massachusetts

December 14, 2018
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(Steven Senne/AP and Julia Sumpter/Leafly)
Legal cannabis sales in Massachusetts hit the ground running, with two stores opening just days before Thanksgiving to long lines and waits that sometimes stretched upward of two hours.

More stores are coming—along with more products, growers, and strains—but if you’re planning a trip to one of the few stores already open, it pays to plan ahead. Read on for a comprehensive look at the current state of adult use in Massachusetts!


In Massachusetts, First Day of Legal Cannabis Sales ‘Felt Like Clockwork’

Where to Go

For roughly the first month of legal sales, only two retailers in Massachusetts were approved to sell recreational cannabis: New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton (open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.) and Cultivate in Leicester (open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.). But as of this writing, there are two more poised to open, including Alternative Therapies Group in Salem, which could open as soon as Saturday, Dec. 15, and INSA in Easthampton. (INSA’s Springfield location will remain medical-only.)

Those in the Boston area, however, are in for a bit of a drive—at least for now. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said late last month that the city’s first adult-use retail shop will probably open up around the North Station area of the city, but that it might not happen until fall 2019.

Dozens more are waiting in the wings. As of late November, 20 dispensaries throughout the state had received a provisional license. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, most should be opening up during the first quarter of 2019.


Here’s Where to (Eventually) Find Recreational Cannabis in Massachusetts

What to Buy

With so few stores open for business, those that have opened their doors have imposed purchasing limits in an effort to avoid product shortages. These limits are separate from the purchasing and possession limits set under state law.

The limits change daily based on product availability. During a visit in early December to NETA in Northampton, adult-use customers were limited to 3.5 grams of flower, 3 mini pre-rolls, and 2 vape cartridges (specifically RUBI pods or APEX cartridges) per visit. At Cultivate, customers saw similar limits: 3.5 grams of flower, one pre-roll, and a couple edibles.


What does cannabis look like? A visual guide to cannabis quantities

Given long lines and product limits, be sure to review store menus online or call ahead to see what—and how much—you’ll be able to purchase.

How Much Does It Cost?

So far, the state’s two operating retail stores are fairly equal when it comes to prices. Remember, though, that all adult use cannabis comes with a 20% tax added on.

  • Flower: Both shops have a variety of strains available, from popular hybrids such as Flo OG and Walker Kush at NETA to classics like Sour Diesel at Cultivate. For 3.5 grams, you’ll pay about $50.
  • Vape Cartridges: You can purchase cartridges in gram or half-gram amounts and with various concentrations of THC and CBD. Most go for between $40 and $100.
  • Edibles: A range of edibles are currently available, from chocolate bars to gummy candies. Cultivate also has granola bites and cannabis-infused beverages for sale! Edibles range in price from $10 to $30. (Remember: Edibles can hit hard. If you’re new to edibles, start with a low dose of 5 mg to 10 mg and wait at least two hours before deciding to consume more.)
  • Concentrates: Given strong demand and the market’s slow rollout, there may be a limit on the types and quantity of concentrates like wax or shatter that are available on store shelves. Make sure to check online or call ahead if you have questions. Prices for concentrates range from about $50 for wax or shatter to $95 for distillate.

Remember: All adult-use cannabis purchase carry a 20% tax rate.


The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Dabs and Cannabis Extracts

What Else to Know

With only two stores in the state being able to sell recreational cannabis, lines have been long. Waits at both shops range from half an hour to more than two hours, depending on time and day. NETA has a wait time widget on its website that provides an estimate of how long you’ll wait. The shop also provides some parking information in case lots are full. And for those visiting Leicester, a Facebook group posts regular updates on the wait time at Cultivate.

Both shops currently accept either cash or debit card payments.

Once you’re there, make sure you choose the right line. NETA has ended up splitting adult-use customers into two lines: those wanting to order at the counter with a budtender, and those who’ve put in an order ahead of time. NETA’s reserve ahead system allows customers to place orders online and pick it up in person. It makes for a much shorter wait and allows for a smoother, faster flow of customers.

Both shops currently accept either cash or debit card payments. And remember to bring a valid, government-issued photo ID that shows you are 21 or older.


Massachusetts Dispensaries That Let You Order Ahead of Time

Budtenders at both locations are doing their best to get visitors in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. And despite long lines, not a single customer I’ve spoken to has had a bad word to say about the wait. In fact, every time I’ve visited my nearby shop in Northampton, I’ve noticed how polite, pleasant, and generally happy the folks in line seem to be.

What About Medical Patients?

Both Cultivate and NETA began as medical marijuana dispensaries and say they’re committed to serving patients with the same care and concern they always have. Both shops offers patients premium parking spots, the ability to jump past adult-use lines, and their own dedicated budtenders and check-out registers.

Avital Norman Nathman's Bio Image

Avital Norman Nathman

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer and editor who tackles everything from parenting to pot and pop culture. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, VICE, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @TheMamafesto.

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