September 26, 2022

Ascend feels more like an Apple store than a standard get-in, get-out dispensary, with its large range of smokable and delicious items on display. Here, tablet-wielding employees assist clients in navigating the company’s premium-brand-name cannabis, Ozone Reserve, which is displayed in a glass case. Expect big things from Ascend Wellness Holdings, which has been dubbed the “most anticipated [cannabis] IPO of the year” by industry insiders. Its Boston branch merges nicely in with the other prominent retailers nearby, including Converse’s flagship sneaker store.

Pure Oasis is a good option.

From the serene, Caribbean-blue and Afro-Latin-inspired mural that spans an external wall to the chummy budtenders who put newcomer guests at ease, Boston’s first recreational cannabis dispensary is still its coolest. Join Pure Oasis’ “Cannabis Club” for text-message updates on new menu items like 1906 Drops, plant-based THC-infused pills that come in fast-acting varieties like “Midnight” (formulated as a sleep aid), “Bliss” (designed to elicit a calming euphoria), and “Chill” (designed to elicit a calming euphoria) (which adds a high dose of CBD for the most muscle-mellowing effect).

GreenStar Herbals is a good option.

This online dispensary which opened at the end of the summer a stone’s throw from the Encore casino, takes pleasure in its slick aesthetic and upmarket inventory. The opulent room, which includes a player piano, a gas fireplace, and local art on the walls, would appeal to any gambling fan who admires Dean Martin or Dan Bilzerian. Pre-rolled joints, flowers, tinctures, and topicals from VIP brands like Rythm, which GreenStar’s president and CEO refers to as “the Cadillac of cannabis,” would also appeal.

Snoop Dogg, Lil’ Kim, and James Brown have something in common. Their mug photographs are all on display at Seed, a boutique in Hyde Square nestled beneath a stairwell. At the dispensary’s Core Social Justice Cannabis Museum, smiling workers in zipped black jumpsuits sell cannabis and knowledge through an enormous stone-wall mural lighted in rainbow colors. It’s a sobering look at how the history of criminalization has disproportionately affected communities of color, complete with a model jail cell.

Consider Sanctuary.

At the Beacon Street Gallery, a professionally curated, changing exhibition space housed at this small dispensary chain’s Brookline site, creativity-sparking strains like the fruity Extraterrestrial Bananas will help you dig the meaning of every painting. Allow the lively discussion to continue at one of Brookline Booksmith’s author readings, which will resume in September, or during a foreign-film matinée at Coolidge Corner Theatre.

Check out Legal Greens.

This Brockton hotspot is home to the East Coast’s first Black-woman-owned dispensary, a fact that deserves more than a footnote as the state’s newly legal cannabis sector attempts to meet the state’s Social Equity Program. The shop, by any metric, just curates amazing product: energizing flower strains like Game Changer, delectable THC-infused fruit chews, and plenty of branded sweatshirts and stuff. Pair that bud with a pint of Brockton Beer Company, one of the state’s only Black-owned breweries, which is set to open soon around the block.

Berkshire Roots is a good place to start.

You don’t want to get up from your couch to get a fresh batch of locally grown leaves? Berkshire Roots, situated in Pittsfield and known for potent cannabis concentrates like Greylock OG, named after Massachusetts’ highest mountain, will be the first dispensary offered on Zip Run, a highly backed startup that is bringing adult-use marijuana home delivery to Boston.

Consider Nova Farms.

Indoor cannabis cultivation currently accounts for about 10% of industrial power use in the Bay State. This dispensary aims to change that by sourcing its product from New England’s largest outdoor cannabis farm, which produces its flowers in the sunshine and fresh air of western Massachusetts as blunts wrapped in palm leaves or infused into honey sticks from Nova’s own apiary. Going green is a good thing.

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