Budding Local Industry Kickoff: Squid’s Ink Special Edition

December 1

Wake and bake it wasn’t.

On RI’s recreational marijuana opening day, scads of reporters swarmed the several buyers who turned up at 7am at the spanking new Mother Earth Wellness Dispensary. With microphones and cameras stuck in their faces, the buyers kept their mouths shut even as they opened their wallets and collected their weed.


That said, everyone grinned on this momentous day. At last, anyone over the age of 21 could finally legally buy cannabis without paying off a doobie doctor or committing a felony by crossing state lines with a gram of indica.

We arrived 10 minutes late, expecting crowds and were thrilled to score the third legal recreational eighth in Pawtucket history. Something to tell our grandkids about? Maybe not. Over the course of the day, we hit three sites and found all of them less crowded than Northeast Alternatives on a random Thursday. Still, it was sweet to cough up the cash and still walk out with enough boo to get comatose.

Pawtucket: 7am

Mother Earth Wellness is swanky and spacious. Dealing from a 130-yearold restored mill building, the showroom blends exposed wood pillars and ceilings with glitz, glamor, and shiny marble countertops courtesy of their neighbor, the Kitchen & Countertop Center of New England.

“This shop, physically, is beyond anything I could have imagined,” said State Senator Josh Miller, who has spent a dozen years leading the legalization effort at the Statehouse. They’re still working out the kinks. Smiling young things behind the counter answered questions, but then had to run to a back corner to collect the orders.

“The approach of cannabis,” said Jon Leighton, the store’s manager “is really about being very in tune with your health. Being very in tune with what you’re looking to get out of life at the end of the day.”

He went on for a while, talking about the “normalcy of wanting to bring a natural thing into your life…”
“It’s not about getting high?” we asked.
“It’s not just about getting high,” Leighton said with a smile.

Over at the olfactory “Flower Bar,” where a discerning customer can enjoy a sniff of more than a dozen varieties, we heard someone say that the Mayor of Pawtucket was in the building! Unfortunately, we didn’t see whether he made a purchase.

Providence: 7:59am

There was a line out the door at the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, mostly because the door was still locked. Actually, there were only seven people split in two lines – one for medical and one for recreational.

The dude behind us smoked to manage back pain. He could have gotten a medical license, but didn’t like the medical card system. He was thrilled because now he could get his medicine and walk home.

When the doors opened at 8:01, the lines merged. Soon we were making our way to the counter and… ordering on an ipad, which just isn’t fun. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just order online and go to the drive-through, which is a cool idea in itself!

“It’s important for us to prioritize and maintain our patient base and our patient focus,” said spokesperson Chris Reilly. “If you look at our facility, we’ve designated an area specifically for medical patients. They’re prioritized upon entry. We want to make sure that the medicine we’ve provided for nearly 10 years is still available to them.”

The oldest dispensary in the state, Slater, is showing its age with cracked windows and a bit of a funky (not weed) scent. The clients were a bit more jaded, and the staff wouldn’t let us take pictures inside. Nevertheless, they had one of our favorite edibles, The Bomb Bar, which is like a cannabis Twix, on special with five for $10!

Central Falls: 4pm

It was quiet, almost deserted, at Aura of Rhode Island. The smallest of the three sites we visited was most similar to dispensaries we’ve visited in Mass.

“It’s been fairly busy,” said bud tender AJ Lessa. “I think all around, people are just excited to get their hands on a little bit of everything.” The Aura bud tenders were happy, and since there were fewer choices, the weed was ready at hand, making the whole process quicker and more personal.

Unlike Slater and Mother Earth, Aura wasn’t pushing their own product. It was a happy place with some kind bud.

Closing Factoids

One of the best reasons to shop local is that everything sold in RI’s dispensaries is home grown. Yes, there are probably huge businesses pumping money into the system, but at least a big chunk of the revenue and salaries are circulating in-state.

YES, you can get Hapi’s infused Del’s regular or pink lemonade in 6-oz bottles, infused with 10mg THC. Be careful out there!