Checking out Foliage of a different kind
Published on NY Post.com, October, 2020
Written by Michael Kaplan
It’s peak leaf-peeping season in New England, with New Yorkers flocking to the Berkshires of Massachusetts to enjoy the views. And some are also checking out foliage of a different kind.
The bucolic town of Sheffield, Mass., has become a weekend hotspot for Big Apple residents who want to get high while they get away from the stresses of the city. It’s the home of New York State’s closest legal pot emporium, a well-lit and art-adorned operation called The Pass.
“It looks just like an Apple store in here,” Manhattanite Perry O., who does audio-visual work for live productions, told The Post on a recent stop. He noted that there’s a certain etiquette when shopping: “You have to say flower or cannabis. Nobody calls it weed.
“My friends in New York are always asking me to bring back some. We like the pre-rolls [joints]; they come in a cute pack.”
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Massachusetts since 2016, but Perry — like other Pass customers from NYC that The Post interviewed — asked that his surname be held simply because there’s a perception that it’s illicit.
One thing’s for sure: These dime-bags ain’t cheap.
One-eighth of an ounce of marijuana — with names like Green Crack and Seattle Soda (“The sweetest we have,” advised Kate Stewart-Sollanek, a resident “budtender”) — runs between $60 to $70 after taxes, as opposed to the $40 or so that a similar quantity would cost from a local NYC delivery service.
But Perry’s cool with the price tag: “This will take less to get high than what I buy in New York. I don’t have to smoke three baseball-bat [sized] joints.”
Pass co-owner Chris Weld points out that, at 27, Perry is on the younger end of the shop’s demographic. His largest consumer sector is comprised of old-school pot smokers between 40 and 70. One responsibility of the employees who stand outside and check IDs appears to be helping gray-haired folks get down the three steps that lead from the dispensary’s front door.
Pam, a 64-year-old reading tutor from Manhattan, decamped to the area because of the pandemic — and now enjoys getting stoned, too. “I stopped smoking 35 years ago. When I saw you could buy cannabis here, I figured I’d try it again,” she said, adding that the stuff no longer serves as a party aid. “I mostly use it for going to sleep.”
Weld opened The Pass in July, about four years after Massachusetts deemed recreational marijuana legal. He now sells everything from “farm to label” organic weed, grown out back, to THC-laced candies cranked out by a repurposed pill-making machine.
Still, not everyone is high on the results. “I came up here to camp with friends for a few days and see the leaves; I figured the weed would be a good enhancer ,” said Ariel, a 23-year-old from the Bronx. But she was disappointed by the dispensary’s limited selection — “Right now we have 17 strains of flower awaiting approval at the testing lab,” said Weld — and bummed by the low potency of the edibles. “Massachusetts lets you have five milligrams of THC per serving [as opposed to the 10mg allowed in California],” Ariel said. “I guess I’ll start by eating two.”
But a day trip to The Pass — complete with epic leaf-watching and lunch at The Marketplace, a nearby farm-to-table joint — feels like a self-care concern to one software programmer from Long Island City. “I usually have a guy delivering to me,” he said. “But with COVID, I’ve stopped feeling comfortable about him coming inside my apartment. This seems safer.”
As he left, he tossed his bag of vape cartridges and pot-infused candies onto the front seat of his rented sedan. But before he could head back to New York, an employee called out friendly advice: “You want to put that bag in the trunk. You don’t want to get stopped and rub it in a cop’s face.”