Will the new local pot shop impact campus life?

It will, but not drastically

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(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Brendan Lally

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the new marijuana dispensary in Northampton. New England Treatment Access is one of the two first legal recreational pot dispensaries in Massachusetts, the other being Cultivate Holdings LLC in Leicester, MA. Followed by around 1,000 customers last Tuesday, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz was the first in line at the shop, proud to show his support for the legalization of marijuana. Though, with Northampton being only around 20 minutes from the University of Massachusetts, what does NETA being so close mean for campus?

Today, most people are pretty acclimated to pot culture. Getting whiffs of weed in a residence hall can be a daily occurrence in almost every residence area across campus. Nobody freaks out and nobody thinks twice about it, because it’s just business as usual.

The same can be said on a national scale. With the legalization of pot normalizing the substance at a rapid rate, more and more of the country is beginning to understand that a little bit of weed might not be so bad after all. States like Michigan and Vermont have joined the wave of legalization, and now 10 states allow recreational use.

There are plenty of ways to consume weed: you can smoke it, eat it and even drop tincture on your tongue. Smoking is obviously the most popular way to consume marijuana, because all you really need is some weed, a paper and a lighter – all of which could be found long before NETA opened its doors, albeit illegally. So will NETA being close to campus really change anything?

Right now, students already have their own methods for getting their hands on marijuana. People at NETA will say that smoking their regulated weed is the only way to be sure it’s not laced with anything, though I’m not convinced that laced weed is a widespread issue. The fact of the matter is, weed from a dispensary is far more expensive than weed would be if it were bought illegally off the street, not to mention the 20 percent tax that the state takes out of your purchase.

That being said, you just might get what you pay for at NETA. For anyone who is interested in trying marijuana, this place will make you feel like a kid in a candy shop. They have edibles, dab cartridges, tincture, shatter and pre-rolled joints. And if you don’t know what any of those things are, there is no time like the present to go check it out and learn.

But when looking at UMass culture, I’m not sure NETA will make a huge splash. For those smoking pot, as opposed to using edibles, vapes or oil, I don’t know if they will find a need to get weed in a way that’s different than the way they’ve been getting it all along. There is just no real motivation for them to pay extra for virtually the same product, and for them to have to drive to the store as well. However, I’m sure the UMass pot smoking population will be excited about the emergence of new, legal ways to get high with edibles and oils.

Is this a bad thing? I’d firmly say no. All weed really seems to do is put you in a good mood or make you tired. It’s not like alcohol where if you have too much, you can become belligerent. So, what’s the harm in people getting high and watching Rick and Morty? There are many worse things that they could be doing. I really think there is just a social stigma that is fading, but currently still lingering, around pot. Many people from older generations associate pot with counterproductivity and a lack of intelligence, but a new age of marijuana users is certainly testing that stereotype.

Thankfully, our local community can now experiment in the realm of marijuana in a regulated and safe way. As far as the changes to campus pot consumption goes, time will tell. Though, if I were a betting man, I’d predict that a lot more students will be getting high off some new methods courtesy of NETA. The edibles, dab pens and tinctures will surely be much more popular around school than they were before. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there are five colleges around Northampton, which makes it a perfect market when targeting a new generation of pot smokers. It should be exciting to see what NETA pumps out into the community in the coming weeks. As for those trying to wrap their brains around the fuss that marijuana is causing, now’s your chance to see what it’s all about.

 

Brendan Lally is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]