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Legal weed sales kick off in Amherst

  • Laura Frontierro, assistant manager of Rise Amherst, makes the Amherst dispensary's first recreational marijuana sale to Amherst Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/Bera Dunau

  • Laura Frontierro, assistant manager of Rise Amherst, makes the Amherst dispensary's first recrrational marijuana sale to Amherst Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz. Bera Dunau—Bera Dunau

  • Laura Frontierro, assistant manager of Rise Amherst, makes the Amherst dispensary's second sale to Donnie Blackwell of Amherst. Bera Dunau—Bera Dunau

Staff Writer
Published: 5/12/2019 11:33:33 PM

AMHERST — Steady rain appeared to keep the crowds away from the Mother’s Day opening of recreational marijuana sales at the Rise Amherst dispensary.

The opening saw the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Amherst, with customers being offered Atkins Farms doughnuts and the moms among their number being offered roses and tokens for a free ice cream at Atkins.

However, in the first two hours of recreational sales at the 169 Meadow St. dispensary, only a small number of people purchased the dispensary’s products, although a tiny line did form briefly around noon.

Jennifer Barry, vice president of retail for Green Thumb Industries, the company that owns Rise, said she knew it would be “hit or miss” when RISE got the green light to open on Mother’s Day and graduation weekend.

“We’re OK without the wraparound,” she said, referring to a long line of customers. “It’s not about today — it’s about giving access as we keep moving on in this community.”

All sales were in cash, and there was an ATM in the dispensary for customers. Customers were limited to 3.5 grams of flower, 1 gram of extracts and two packages of edibles per day.

Rise first opened for medical marijuana in Amherst on May 20 last year. The building has a separate lobby for medical and recreational sales.

Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries has marijuana licenses for 77 retail locations around the country. It also has 11 marijuana manufacturing facilities.

The dispensary’s first customer of the day was Geoff Kravitz, economic development director for the town of Amherst, at around 10 a.m.

“The voters of Amherst favored the ballot measure (legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts) 3-1,” said Kravitz. “I think most of the residents are excited to see what it (the dispensary) brings.”

Kravitz purchased an eig hth of an ounce of French King flower and a Jack Herer vaporizer cartridge. He was given a free battery with his purchase as well.

Kravitz said he is considering handing out the products to friends he knew growing up in Amherst who used marijuana when it was illegal. However, he said he may preserve them if it’s determined that there’s historical significance to the purchases, as Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz chose to do with the marijuana-infused chocolate bar he purchased from New England Treatment Access’ Northampton dispensary.

“We’ll see what the town wants to do with it,” he said.

Asked what it will mean for Amherst economically, Kravitz said jobs have already been created by the dispensary. He also noted the tax and host community agreement money that would be generated by the sales, and expressed the hope that it would draw people to Amherst.

The second customer was Donnie Blackwell, of Amherst, a dining worker at Hampshire College who was Rise’s first medical marijuana customer. Blackwell chose an eighth of an ounce of Skywalker Kush flower as his purchase.

Blackwell, who has sampled Skywalker before, described its effect as, “like I’m walking in the sky.”

He also praised Rise’s customer service.

“They treat you like family here,” he said.

Following Blackwell’s purchase, sales were opened up to the general public. One of the customers was Rachel Kent, of Greenfield, whose daughter works at Rise. She purchased an eighth of an ounce of Skywalker.

“It’s a nice facility,” Kent said.

Kent’s husband, Christopher Klosson, who is a medical marijuana user, also praised Rise.

“All dispensaries should be as cordial and pleasant,” said Klosson. “This is the best.”

Hampshire College student Darien Cowel went to the dispensary with her mother, Jenny Cowel, of Goshen. They purchased Kimbo Kush flower and a Tangie vape pen.

“I felt comfortable just kind of hanging out at the counter asking questions, looking at the menu,” said Jenny Cowel, of the experience at Rise.

Darien Cowel said she is pretty anti-pot shop, but because of how much she enjoys the Tangie pens and the convenience of its location she may continue to visit Rise.

The mother and daughter said they were heading to brunch next and intended to enjoy their newly purchased marijuana products on Mother’s Day, possibly before brunch.

“We are just psyched to smoke some legal pot,” said Darien Cowel.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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