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Navigating the Boston Cannabis Scene

All dispensaries are not created equal, and it's vital to be informed before making a choice.

August 29, 2023

How Boston’s Cannabis Industry Has Grown

Since the legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use in Massachusetts in 2016, the demand in Boston’s cannabis industry has only grown, creating constant opportunities for businesses to enter the market.

Currently, there are over 70 licensed dispensaries in Massachusetts, with many located in the Boston area. Pop into any of these dispensaries, and you’ll find a whole variety of products like flower, edibles, tinctures, concentrates, and more. The cannabis industry boom has also created many jobs in cultivation, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution, all contributing to the greater Boston economy.

But this expansion does come with growing pains, and the industry still faces challenges. Navigating complex regulations and licensing processes, addressing concerns about public safety and potential misuse, and managing supply chain logistics are all issues that can make the road forward a little bumpy. Still, the cannabis industry in Boston is expected to continue its growth as the American public shifts its perception of cannabis and more states continue to legalize.

The Legal Situation of Cannabis in Boston 

In 2016, Massachusetts legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use, joining a growing number of states across the US. But in these early days, the legal landscape in Boston is complex and fluid, and can be tough to navigate.

Under Massachusetts law, individuals over 21 years old can possess up to one ounce of cannabis or five grams of concentrate in a public place, or up to ten ounces in their private residence. The law also allows for the cultivation of up to six plants per person for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Be mindful of restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed. Spoking or vaping cannabis in public spaces or on federal land is prohibited. So, keep your products packed away if you’re out walking the Freedom Trail or hiking through Boston Harbor Islands. Driving under the influence of cannabis is also illegal, and it's important to understand the potential health risks associated with cannabis use.

The cannabis industry in Boston is regulated by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), which oversees licensing for dispensaries, cultivators, and other businesses involved in the production and sale of cannabis. The CCC has strict regulations in place to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations, and businesses must meet certain requirements to obtain and maintain a license.

This can all sound a bit overwhelming, but anyone can navigate the legal landscape around cannabis in Boston simply by staying informed and up to date with local laws and regulations, while being aware of potential health and safety risks associated with cannabis use. 

Choosing A Boston Dispensary

Dispensaries are the beating heart at the center of the Boston cannabis scene as the primary point of access for cannabis products. But all dispensaries are not created equal, and it's vital to be informed before making a choice. Factors like product quality, selection, pricing, location, and customer service can all make a big difference. 

Product quality is key to finding the right dispensary. Focus on finding dispensaries that prioritize quality and safety, including lab testing for potency and contaminants. 

Everyone's needs and preferences are different. That’s why a quality dispensary will offer a wide selection of products, including a range of strains, edibles, concentrates, and other products, as well as different consumption methods such as smoking, vaping, or tinctures.

Pricing is important as well. The cost of cannabis products can vary widely depending on the dispensary and location, so don’t hesitate to look for the best bang for your buck. Is it worth driving a little further to spend less on a soothing topical? Paying more for quality customer service may matter when choosing your first cartridge. With a few clicks, it’s easy to compare prices across different dispensaries and products to ensure that you’re getting a fair deal for the right product.

Location may also be a deciding factor. Accessibility and convenience, as well as the overall safety of the surrounding area, can make all the difference in your choice of dispensary. 

Boston’s Cannabis Events and Activities

Cannabis events and activities are becoming increasingly popular in Boston, as the city's cannabis scene continues to grow. Some of the most fun and frequent events and activities around the city include cannabis-friendly tours, workshops, and festivals.

Cannabis tours offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore Boston's cannabis scene, learn about the history of cannabis in Boston, and visit licensed dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Tours can often be customized depending on a group’s interests and preferences. Options range from educational tours to recreational cannabis experiences and more.

Another popular way to learn about cannabis is through Boston’s famed cannabis workshops! These events focus on a wide variety of topics, so there’s something for everyone. From cannabis cultivation to cooking with cannabis, and even cannabis entrepreneurship, these workshops are typically led by industry experts and can provide not only valuable insights, but invaluable networking opportunities for those interested in the cannabis industry. 

Cannabis festivals are also becoming more common in Boston, offering a fun and festive atmosphere for cannabis enthusiasts to come together and celebrate. These diverse and lively festivals can feature live music, food vendors, and product showcases from local dispensaries and businesses. 

It's important to note that while cannabis has been legalized in Massachusetts, public consumption is still prohibited, and many events may have restrictions or regulations in place. So remember to check the rules and regulations before attending a cannabis event or activity and, and as always please consume cannabis responsibly and legally.

Supporting Social Equity in the Cannabis Industry

In Boston, several social equity programs and initiatives have been established to promote diversity and equity in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Control Commission, which oversees the regulation of cannabis in Massachusetts, has established a Social Equity Program to provide technical assistance, training, and funding to individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

The City of Boston has also implemented a Cannabis Equity Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to cannabis businesses owned by individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition. The program also includes a zoning plan that prioritizes equity applicants for certain locations.

In addition, the Cannabis Control Commission has implemented a "priority certification" process for certain applicants, including those who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement or who have a past drug conviction.

NETA’s parent company, Parallel, believes that being a leader in the industry means incorporating and supporting a diverse array of experience, backgrounds and perspectives. 

To put this commitment in action, Parallel sponsors The BCB Mastermind, a free executive training program for cannabis business owners of color. In 2022, BCB Mastermind worked with more than 75 BIPOC cannabis entrepreneurs through four regional cohorts hosted across the country. The program’s 2023 calendar launched in Boston, bringing cannabis business owners of color together and opening the doors for more inclusion in the Boston cannabis scene. 

Keeping Up with The Cannabis Industry

To navigate the Boston cannabis scene effectively, it's important to do your research and stay informed about legal regulations. And you can feel even better about your choices when you consider social equity programs and initiatives that are being supported. When choosing a dispensary in Boston, don't forget factors like product quality, pricing, and location, and don't be afraid to ask questions or seek recommendations from others. 

  • The legal landscape surrounding cannabis in Boston includes adult-use and medical-use cannabis, with certain restrictions and regulations in place.
  • Dispensaries play a key role in the Boston cannabis scene, with factors to consider when choosing a dispensary including product quality, pricing, and location.
  • The cannabis industry in Boston is rapidly growing, with a variety of dispensaries, consumption methods, and events available.
  • There are several different consumption methods available for cannabis, including smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. The choice of consumption method depends on personal preference and medical needs.
  • Cannabis events and activities are becoming increasingly popular in Boston, including cannabis-friendly tours, workshops, and festivals.
  • Social equity is an important consideration in the cannabis industry, with several programs and initiatives in place in Boston to promote diversity and equity.

When consuming cannabis, it's important to choose a consumption method that suits your personal preferences and medical needs. Finally, attending cannabis events and activities can be a great way to learn more about the industry and connect with like-minded individuals, but be sure to check the rules and regulations before attending. And in all cases, remember to consume legally and responsibly.

By following these recommendations and staying informed about the Boston cannabis scene, you can enjoy all that the industry has to offer while promoting diversity, equity, and responsible consumption. 

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