The Best Medical Dispensaries in Massachusetts
No time like the present.
We hold this coronavirus truth to be self-evident: marijuana dispensaries are absolutely essential right now. Unfortunately, Governor Charlie Baker hasn’t seen it that way, at least when it comes to the recreational variety. And local dispensaries have even banned together to file a lawsuit against the governor, arguing that, if liquor stores are essential, they should be too. Plus, Boston proper just got its first adult-use dispensary, for pete’s sake -- give Pure Oasis and other related small businesses a chance to survive. But for now, it’s medical dispensaries only.
Here’s the good news: the Cannabis Control Commission is letting certified healthcare providers prescribe new patients through telehealth and most dispensary sites now have posted info as to how to navigate the process. Most sites are operating with regular or near-regular hours and are offering advance online ordering, plus some great deals. So no time like the present to explore alternative treatments for your end-of-world anxiety.
Two notes: While we’ve included distances from Boston, we strongly encourage you to stay as local as possible. Also, we’ve included info about nearby, still-open outdoor areas where you can grab some fresh air at a safe social distance.
Distance from Boston: Minutes by car
NETA Brookline is housed inside a beautiful, converted bank, all high ceilings and ornate dark wood; the only difference is that the “tellers” traffic in the doob. The menu is comparable to its Northampton counterpart, though its enduring popularity sometimes means its product runs out more quickly -- especially right now. Bonus points go to the staff members for their friendly but no-nonsense attitude (not every dispensary visitor seeks a woo-woo experience).
How it works right now: Those with a valid medical card must reserve their purchases ahead.
Nearby natural high: Brookline Reservoir Park is a great spot to get your steps in before heading back home.
Distance from Boston: One hour
With a name like Cultivate, you’d expect a farm-like approach to their product, and the dispensary doesn’t disappoint: “seed to table” is Cultivate’s governing philosophy. The lineup of flower, pre-rolls, wax, and vape cartridges is impressive, but how intriguing is that infused olive oil? Lockdown cooking just got a lot more exciting. And no one ever went wrong making cannabis-chocolate chip cookies their quarantine treat.
How it works right now: Patients must reserve ahead of time online; those seeking a full-service consult can call 508.233.8000 to speak with a brand ambassador.
Nearby natural high: A stroll through Frank Cook Forest will provide a needed shot of chlorophyll.
Distance from Boston: One hour
Northeast Alternatives (NEA) has a poignant back story. At age 19, founder Chris Harkins witnessed the deep suffering his mom experienced from the cancer that would eventually take her life; when his dad was diagnosed with cancer years later, Harkins sought alternative treatments to alleviate pain and learned more about the efficacy of cannabis. NEA today sells flower, pre-rolls, concentrate, edibles, and vape cartridges; its unique selling proposition has to be its sativa energy drink with notes of cherry and pineapple.
How it works right now: The dispensary is open for regular business hours and is offering special deals for new patients.
Nearby natural high: The Freetown-Fall River State Forest provides 25 miles of hiking trails.
Easthampton and Springfield
Distance from Boston: Approximately one hour 45 minutes to both
There’s the standard lineup of flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, and concentrates, but INSA also offers the Dart Pod, CCell’s vape system that’s lighter and boasts more vapor production than standard cartridges. Most intriguing of all are the bath salts, guaranteed to give you the most relaxing tubby time ever (which we sure as hell could use right about now).
How it works right now: The dispensaries are open for express pick-up orders only.
Nearby natural high: Mount Tom State Reservation is a one-stop nature hit.
Distance from Boston: About two hours
This was the state’s first recreational dispensary, and when it opened, the wait times were measured in hours and parking spots were miles away. Things have since calmed down, but we can’t guarantee what things’ll look like now that it’s medical-only. The menu inside this spa-like space is impressive: a variety of flower and pre-rolls; many edibles, including gummies, lozenges, and even chocolate chip brownies; and a fine-mist inhaler. Their cartridges start with the basic Rempen and the purer Apex, plus their proprietary Rubi (everything else fits the 510 vape cartridge standard).
How it works right now: All orders must be placed ahead of time via Reserve Ahead.
Nearby natural high: Northampton’s Parks and Recreation Department suggests Friends of Northampton Trails and Broad Brook Coalition as two safe places to visit during this time of social distancing.
Danvers and Woburn
Distance from Boston: Twenty minutes to Woburn, 30 minutes to Danvers
Of course you want your weed to be organic. At least, you do if you’ve made your way to Sanctuary, which prides itself on the high-quality cultivation of its products. It sells a variety of flower and pre-rolls, plus vape cartridges and a dash of concentrates. Among the edibles are watermelon fruit chews and butterscotch lozenges, but we’re betting you’re going straight for the peanut butter cookies.
How it works right now: Both medical dispensaries are available for in-store shopping.
Nearby natural high: Dunn State Park includes hiking trails and a new bike trail, both well-suited to outdoor social distancing.
Bridgewater and Great Barrington
Distance from Boston: Two hours and 15 minutes
“Seed to sale” is the new “farm to table,” and Theory is a trailblazer. Its small-batch product is grown right in Bridgewater: a good variety of flowers with two sizes of pre-rolls, plus cartridges, Pax pods, and concentrates. The shops also have plenty of edibles, tinctures, and an “extra strength” body oil that won’t get you high, but will definitely ease coronavirus tightness.
How it works right now: Preorder on the same day you plan to pick up.
Nearby natural high: Explore hundreds of hiking trails in Great Barrington and the recently improved trails in Bridgewater’s town parks.
Boston, Lowell, and Greenfield
Distance from Boston: Two hours, 30 minutes or less
Patriot runs one of the few medicinal dispensaries in Boston proper and has since added two spots to its repertoire. The flower menu is impressive -- more than two dozen varietals currently. Will the weed massage oil give your shoulders the munchies? Only one way to find out. Frankly, we’re here for the hazelnut spread (available only in Lowell). If you’re going to gorge during these trying times, you might as well make the most of it.
How it works right now: Right now, all three medical dispensaries are still open during regular hours for in-store purchases, but you’re still best served by either emailing or calling to place your order ahead of time.
Nearby natural high: If you find yourself at the Greenfield location, visit nearby Rocky Mountain Park along the Connecticut River is 117-acre wooded park with hiking trails and a 1912 sandstone observation tower.
Distance from Boston: Two hours, 30 minutes
Pittsfield is clearly the Highest Town in Massachusetts, given its two different recreational dispensaries when most Massachusetts towns don’t even have one (Temescal Wellness is the other). All that is on pause, of course, but Berkshire Roots, which just opened on April 6, boasts the largest growing operation in Western Mass, and their robust flower selection backs it up. They have pre-rolls and a selection of concentrates as well as gummies, chocolate, and four different tinctures, all made in-house. Never mind that you’ll feel like you’ve walked into an REI, the space is so calm and modern.
How it works now: Patients should pre-order before pick-up; the dispensary will send you a text when your order is ready (no lollygagging in the store!)
Nearby natural high: Pittsfield State Forest for waterfall hikes and the famous Balance Rock.
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