Great Barrington braces itself for recreational pot shop’s Friday opening

The cultivation, sale and use of recreational cannabis-related products was legalized in Massachusetts through a 2016 ballot initiative.

Great Barrington —The long wait is over. Recreational weed in Berkshire County will be a reality in a few short days.

Theory Wellness, which opened its doors in 2017 as Berkshire County’s first medical pot dispensary, will begin selling the recreational variety on Friday, Jan. 11., at 10 a.m. at its retail store at 394 Stockbridge Road. Only buyers 21 or older can purchase the cannabis products.

“A new chapter for the Berkshires begins on Friday,” said Brandon Pollock, CEO of Theory Wellness. “There has been a lot of hard work over the past few months in anticipation of this day, and we are extremely excited to begin providing safe access to cannabis products to adults in the Berkshires.”

Brandon Pollock, founder of Theory Wellness, addressing Great Barrington Selectboard during initial permit application. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Pollock says Theory has been working with the town of Great Barrington, its police department, and surrounding businesses “to ensure a seamless opening.” With hundreds of parking spaces obtained, the company insists it does not anticipate any issues with traffic on Friday.

The company says it will have more information about opening day and designated parking areas, line length, and Massachusetts laws on retail cannabis “in the coming days.”

Theory will become the first recreational operation to commence sales in Berkshire County, though at least five others have opened elsewhere in the state.

Theory was one of two Berkshire County adult-use marijuana retailers to receive its permanent license Dec. 13 from the state Cannabis Control Commission. Click here to read the CCC’s executive summary of the licensing and inspection process that led to the license.

An existing medical marijuana dispensary, Temescal Wellness in Pittsfield, also received a final license on Dec. 13 to sell adult-use cannabis. Click here to see the CCC’s executive summary. A third, Berkshire Welco in Sheffield, was given a provisional license. Berkshire Welco, which will be doing business as The Pass, is still under construction.

Pollock said Theory plans to hire multiple police officers to work traffic details in its first week of operation. The company has also acquired the use of hundreds of parking lots to accommodate the expected crowds during that busy first week of operation. When Cultivate, a cannabis  shop in the Worcester County town of Leicester, opened in November, there were reports of snarled traffic nearby and unruly customers waiting outside in long lines.

See the map below of the parking plans:

There are a limited number of parking spaces in and around Theory’s shop on Stockbridge Road. In addition, a long row of spaces facing Stockbridge Road in front of Laramee’s Cleaners and Mavis Tire will be available. Finally, plenty of overflow parking within walking distance will be available on the back lot of the Crissey Farm banquet facility east of the Barrington Brewery.

Theory will also be providing live updates on its Twitter feed.

Theory markets itself as a “vertically integrated cannabis grow, retail, and product manufacturing company.” It’s headquartered in Stoneham, Mass., and also has a medical dispensary retail location in Bridgewater. Theory says all of its products are manufactured in its own state-of-the-art facility and “produced in small batches, which undergo thorough independent lab testing.”

The cultivation, sale and use of recreational cannabis-related products was legalized in Massachusetts through a 2016 ballot initiative. The measure passed by almost 7.5 percentage points statewide and by almost 30 points in Great Barrington. Implementation of the new law was left to the hastily created state Cannabis Control Commission. Preceding that law, medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2012 through the same process.

Edge writer Sheela Clary has penned a series of articles examining the implications of the legalization of marijuana: