Scrolling Headlines:

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Northampton

Official New England Treatment Access Facebook Page

(Official New England Treatment Access Facebook Page)

New England Treatment Access, which is the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in Western Massachusetts, celebrated its official grand opening ceremony Friday.

The facility, which is located in Northampton, had already treated patients for a week. But with the formal commencement of business operation, members of the local media and government had their first chance to see and smell what many have been waiting for anxiously.

The ceremony was brief and to the point. It included statements from NETA’s regional director Leslie Laurie, patient Michelle Kaskey, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, and NETA’s executive director Arnon Vered. Northampton’s Police Chief Jody Kasper, Fire Chief Duane Nichols and members of the Board of Health were also in attendance.

“Our goal is to make sure people receive their needed care no matter the political push back,” Laurie said, referring to the ongoing national debate on the use of marijuana both medically and recreationally.

“I could get up and walk if I took a puff of some good pot,” said Mark Ceria, who has suffered from chronic nerve pain in his legs for over a decade that has confined him to a wheelchair.

“I’m on oxycodone, and Lyrica and 10 different other drugs. I want to try some really good marijuana to change my life without the fear of being arrested,” he said.

Ceria hopes to join NETA’s growing list of patients. The Holyoke native said the drug helps alleviate his pain, which gives him a sense of well-being.

In his public remarks, Vered referred to medical marijuana as a safe alternative to opioids. Kaskey said that it’s important that patients have another choice when trying to treat themselves.

To many, including Kaskey, it was not a surprise that Northampton was the home Western Massachusetts’ first dispensary.

“I’m appreciative but not surprised, it’s a reflection of the town’s compassion and open mindedness,” Kaskey said during the ceremony.

Narkewicz alluded to the community’s overwhelming support, citing that the town voted 84 percent in favor of opening the dispensary. He also said that the large contingent of government officials at the ceremony reflects NETA and Northampton’s positive relationship.

The mayor noted that NETA is a boost to the local economy, citing the fact that it brought in 25 high-paying jobs and that people from all over the region come to Northampton to visit the center and receive their medication.

“For people who are concerned that this is just people wandering in and buying marijuana, that’s really not what this is,” Narkewicz said regarding the tight security surrounding the location.

To get inside NETA, which is located at 118 Conz St. in an inconspicuous one-story renovated office building, patients have to be buzzed in through the front door, where there is a surveillance camera and a speaker to talk to them.

Patients then enter a sort of waiting area, where their medical marijuana card and ID are both thoroughly checked, after which, they are let in.

Awaiting the valid customer is essentially a variety of options and features. Everything is brand new, from the polished wood paneling to the multiple high-definition TVs projecting close-up images of different strains of cannabis.

Customers were lined up well over an hour before the ceremony started. They can approach the counter like in any other store and simply order what they want. In a glass display embedded in the counter is an extensive variety of strains with a display nugget for each, with several of the store’s vape pens also exhibited.

Gabe Smith can be reached at

Leave A Comment