“Who wants to see a really big joint?” the announcer called out just after 4:20 p.m. Saturday at the Harvest Cup at the DCU Center.
In November 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a law legalizing recreational marijuana for adults older than 21. Under Massachusetts law, adults can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana at their residence and up to 1 ounce outside, although smoking marijuana is still prohibited in the same places as smoking tobacco.
The law’s provisions on possession, use and growing went into effect on Dec. 15, 2016.
Thousands of cannabis (not “marijuana,” which those interviewed said had negative connotations) aficionados celebrated that anniversary by gathering at the DCU Center this weekend for the inaugural THC.
Part competition – the contest drew 73 entries in six categories: flower, edibles, concentrates, nonsolvents, oils and tincture, and topicals – part trade-show expo and part community celebration, the event was sponsored by the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council, MassCann/NORML and the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.
The event featured speakers on topics ranging from the history of the legalization movement to how to establish a legal cannabis business and even create marijuana-infused recipes such as “perfect creamy fudge” and “infused terpene enhanced fresh mozzarella cheese.”
But what seemed to bring most people to the convention center was a chance to mingle with a burgeoning, and increasingly mainstream, cannabis community.
“What we’re hoping to get out of it is a little bit of celebration to bring this out of the shadows and let the average Joe know this is not just some room that stinks like patchouli and is filled with hippies ” said Peter Bernard, president of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council. “We’re coming out of the ‘pot closet,’ so to speak.”
Caroline’s Cannabis of Northbridge offered cannabis-inspired rustic wooden signs evoking a Pottery Barn-designed head shop.
Michael Milburn, 67, of Newton, and a retired professor at UMass-Boston, said he had come to promote his app DRUID. Standing for DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs, the app measures a person’s impairment level through basic tests evaluating hand-eye coordination, reaction time and balance, Mr. Milburn said.
“I hope DRUID will create a community of responsible drug users,” Mr. Milburn said.
The Beantown Greentown growers group, who rolled the 100-foot joint, displayed 4-foot diameter bushes of strains of cannabis they had developed named “Wicked Pissah” and “Boston Massacre.” The “group of people wicked passionate about growing” would like to eventually cultivate and manufacture cannabis and run a club, said Keith Laham, 42, of Roslindale, a co-founder.
“Everybody backs each other up,” he continued. “We’re all hardcore smokers, we don’t want to run out of weed,” he said, laughing.
Joy Baker, an aptly-named professional baker from Chelmsford, came to the event to network and educate herself on the chemistry of cannabis.
“I hope to bridge the gap between those who know a lot about cannabis and my skill set of baking,” Ms. Baker, 55, said. “I’ve never tried pot ever, but I have a skill to provide and hope to connect with people who need that skill.”
Annie Wolf of Boston was interested in developing a line of recreational, artisanal, strain-specific edibles.
“It’s a pretty exciting time. We’re trying to normalize cannabis,” Ms. Wolf, 30, said. “People aren’t coming here to get stoned and wear their tie dye. They’re here because there’s business development opportunity.”
Suzanne Wasserman, 50, of Hills Home Market in Hudson, agreed.
“We figured everybody eats,” Ms. Wasserman said.
And back at the 100-foot-long joint, Denise Fournier, 55, of Gardner, asked the question on everybody’s mind.
“When are you going to light it up?”