The Berkshires Blog

Cannabis Cafes: The Future of Massachusetts Recreational Cannabis Travel

National Access CannabisAccording to MJBizDaily, Massachusetts has brought in nearly $140 million dollars in adult use cannabis sales since legalization. Many western Massachusetts recreational cannabis dispensaries have reported that most of their customers come from out of state, hailing from places like Buffalo, New Jersey, and most notably, New York.

In fact, Crain’s New York Business estimates that 50% of Massachusetts’ adult use cannabis sales came as a result of New York “canna-tourists.” Traveling customers even came from far away states, like Pennsylvania, to sample the east coast’s first legal cannabis market.

Brandon Pollock, CEO of Great Barrington’s Theory Wellness, described in an interview with Crain’s that, “Our business which is located in the Berkshires of Western MA is drawing 1,000 people a day into town, about 90% of whom would otherwise not be here.” He went further to describe that New York canna-tourists often partake in, “aggressive carpooling, with four or five people packed into a Zipcar.”

Those seeking legal cannabis from outside states bring significant business to Berkshire dispensaries, like Theory Wellness, while providing a boon for local tourism.

The Berkshires offer cannabis enthusiasts from New York an array of activities they may indulge in during their stay, like outdoor performances at Tanglewood Music Center, new Brooklynesque restaurants, and impressive cultural landmarks from the art and literature scene, like the home of Edith Wharton.

The Berkshires represent a potential mecca for tourism boosted by legal cannabis, as the Western region of Massachusetts marks an area with few dispensaries, but heavy demand. According to Pollock, “We are surrounded by millions of people and there are only a couple of dispensaries.”

New innovations coming to the Massachusetts cannabis industry promise to further expand canna-tourism in the Berkshires. Soon, cannabis cafes, home delivery options, and social cannabis experiences will become realities and attract more out-of-towners.

Marijanua cafe

Social consumption areas, or marijuana cafes, are on their way to Massachusetts

Earlier this summer, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted in a 3-2 decision to, “[explore] the possibility of licensing social-consumption sites for marijuana,” with prominent cannabis journalists speculating public marijuana consumption areas may help remove public stigma surrounding cannabis.

As a result, the CCC will hold two public hearings on the proposal for cannabis cafes, home delivery of cannabis products, fee elimination for medical cards, and other reforms to the Massachusetts cannabis market.

These hearings will be held on Thursday, August 14th in Boston, and Friday, August 15th in Springfield, Massachusetts.

According to the CCC’s commissioner, Jen Flanagan, marijuana consumption sites, or “cafes,” will help those who live in apartments with anti smoking policies. Since many tourists visiting the Berkshires utilize Airbnb’s, social consumption establishments may help those who cannot find marijuana friendly accommodations.

Flanagan also mentioned that the proposed home delivery policy will largely be impacted by communities that have previously banned legal marijuana.

According to the proposal for marijuana cafes as reported by Telegram.com, “12 communities across [Massachusetts],” would be allowed to implement marijuana consumption sites, “where people 21 and older could consume cannabis on site.”

Of these 12 communities, the first permits for marijuana cafes will be “exclusively available to licensed microbusinesses, craft marijuana cooperatives, certified economic empowerment priority applicants and social equity program participants for the first two years.”

Cannabis delivery

Before it can be implemented, cannabis delivery regulations must be written and approved by the CCC

Massachusetts retail cannabis market, though still in its infancy, has begun to tackle questions surrounding cannabis home delivery as well. While established cannabis delivery services like Eaze exist in California and Oregon, the Massachusetts market has only just begun conceptualizing implementation for canna-delivery.

From what we know about the CCC’s proposal, however, we can gather that cannabis delivery will have plenty of security features. For example, the CCC recommends cannabis delivery service vehicles be manned by two workers at all times, both of which must be wearing body cameras.

Going further, the proposed rules state that cannabis delivery businesses may only deliver products from licensed marijuana retailers, and these deliveries must be restricted to, “residential addresses and municipalities in which retail sales are permitted.”

Places like dormitories, university housing, hospitals, and federally subsidized housing would not be permitted to receive cannabis deliveries. As mentioned before, areas where marijauna sales have been banned may represent a challenge to the drafting and approval of marijuana delivery laws.

Social consumption and home delivery laws, however, won’t go into effect overnight.

According to an interview with WBUR news, Flanagan estimated it would take a year or longer before social consumption and home delivery become realities.

With that said, these innovations offer great promise to the western Massachusetts region. Cannabis deliveries and public consumption lounges will no doubt bring more tourists from outside areas like New York to the Berkshires, where they will be happy to find a sprawling, welcoming community alongside great access to legal cannabis.


About the Author

Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Mj.woodsideventures.co. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about cannabis technology, industry business practices, medical cannabis research, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter