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Theory Wellness secured parking near its facility to accommodate the expected increase in customers.

Berkshires First Recreational Marijuana Store Opens Friday

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The county's first recreational marijuana retailer opens its doors on Friday at 10 a.m.
 
Theory Wellness will be the first to sell retail, rather than medical, cannibis products in the Berkshires after being approved by the state's Cannabis Control Commission last month.
 
"This is the beginning of a movement in the Berkshires," CEO Brandon Pollock said.
 
Theory opened as the county's first medical marijuana dispensary in September 2017 and will also be the first to include recreational sales. It was originally formed in 2015 and constructed the 2,500 square-foot facility for the medical marijuana business.
 
"We started our company before recreational even being on the ballot," Pollock said.
 
Voters approved the legalization of adult-use marijuana by a ballot initiative in the 2016 state election. Lawmakers used the ballot initiative to write new laws and processes governing the industry.
 
The state created the Cannabis Control Commission to oversee permitting and opted to give already approved medical retailers a jump start to include retail sales.
 
Pollock said Theory was one of the first in the door, seeing it as an easy transition for the company with experience managing the licenses and selling medical marijuana. 
 
There are some 60,000 medical marijuana patients, Pollock said, and expanding into recreational sales expands the potential customer base into the millions in New England. Theory is expecting to see 10 times the amount of business with the additional service. 
 
"We are going to be the 6th in the state [for recreational]," Pollock said. "We're preparing to be busy."
 
Others that have opened in the state have seen massive lines and customers flocking from all over the region. Theory said it manufactures its own products at a facility in Bridgewater and expanded that last spring.
 
Even so, expecting high demand, Pollock said there will definitely be a concern about running out of product and limits may have the be set to ensure there is enough to go around.
 
That increased demand is expected to start right on opening day. The first month for the other recreational facilities in the state has been worth millions. Pollock said the company hired some 20 new people to handle the increased business, bringing the total number of employees up to 25.
 
Theory has been working with town officials since receiving approval to handle the expected traffic on opening day. The company said it secured plenty of parking in the back of Great Barrington Brewery & Restaurant to ease any traffic concerns and police details will help direct traffic.
 
The opening won't be a showy event with the company planning to just merely open the doors and serve customers. It will feature a very similar menu to its medical marijuana offerings with the sales of flowers, a variety of edibles, pre-rolled joints, and vaporizer cartridges. It plans to be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. seven days a week.
 
Theory will be the first recreational sales in Berkshire County but Temescal Wellness in Pittsfield is expected to open soon, too. It had also received its approval from the state at the same time as Theory. Silver Therapeutics, a medical dispensary in Williamstown, expects its provisional license soon. There are a number of other facilities throughout the county awaiting permits as well. 

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South County Programs, State Park Fund Secured for FY2020

LENOX, Mass. — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli says some $350,000 has been procured through his efforts in the state's 2020 budget for programs in his 4th Berkshire District, including the Berkshire Youth Development Project, Greenagers, and Community Access to the Arts.
 
"BYDP, CATA, and Greenagers do so much good work in the Southern Berkshires, adding real value to our communities in terms of positive youth development, environmental advocacy, and special needs integration," said Pignatelli. "I wanted to make sure we highlighted these organizations through the state budget to put an emphasis on some of the best qualities the Berkshires have to offer to our commonwealth."
 
Funded at $43.1 billion, H. 4000 makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund's balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.
 
The Berkshire Youth Development Project line item, funded to Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP) in Great Barrington, has been a Pignatelli priority for the past several budgets, supporting the collaboration between RSYP in South County, Berkshire United Way in Pittsfield, and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams to prevent drug dependency and promote positive youth development for a smoother transition to adulthood.
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