Updated: November 14, 2019 11:36 PM
Created: November 14, 2019 10:38 PM
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (WHEC) — Take a drive east on the Thruway to Albany then make your way just a few miles across the border with Massachusetts. You'll end up in Great Barrington.
It is a small town that's big in the weed business.
“We’ve seen customers from every state in the country and around 20 other countries as well at this point,” Theory Wellness CEO Brandon Pollock said.
What started out as a medical marijuana store is now a full-on legal pot shop. Voters in Massachusetts legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2016.
Theory Wellness started selling it to customers in January. Pollock says early on nearly half of their customers were coming from New York.
“About half or so are people traveling here either on vacation or something like that to visit our store is part of the trip,” Pollock added.
Theory Wellness has about 140 employees serving 700 to 1,100 customers on any given day.
Mark Butcher makes the drive from his home in New York to pick up his marijuana. Like other customers, he picks items off a menu just as you would from a wine list with help from a sommelier.
“You get to smell, you get to taste, you get the high basically,” Butcher said.
Customers can walk out with an ounce of cannabis a day. While law enforcement groups aren't sitting at the state line to crack down on weed coming into New York, drivers like Butcher can still get caught but only for a violation.
This year New York lawmakers decriminalized it by increasing the amount of weed a person can have without getting charged with a misdemeanor.
“Everything that a commonsense person would look at with statistical data shows that this is a horrible idea,” Livingston County Sheriff Tom Dougherty said while explaining why he is firmly against legalizing marijuana.
He hosted a who's who of law enforcement bosses for a press conference earlier this year. They warned of the unknowns, costs, and safety risks.
Their major concerns are on the roads and among teens.
“Don’t think it’s going to help you be smarter, don’t think it’s going to help your kid go on and live a successful life, don’t think it’s going to help you be safer,” Dougherty explained. “I would actually say exactly the opposite.”
News10NBC took a trip to Theory Wellness in Massachusetts back in September. Just this month the Boston Globe reported a federal grand jury is investigating contracts and payments between cities and towns in Massachusetts and the marijuana companies they host.
Great Barrington is one of them.
Theory Wellness isn’t commenting on the pending case.
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