By Dan McCarthy
Two and a half hours.
That’s how long it takes to drive from New York City to Massachusetts right off I-91 until you get to the city of Holyoke. There, the on-the-rise working class city along the canals is currently in the middle of a revitalization that is being driven by welcoming legal cannabis in town with open arms.
Now that Canna Provisions is about to be the first adult-use cannabis retailer to open its doors in Holyoke at 380 Dwight Street, store manager Isaias Lopez says as a proud Latino and Holyoke native that being able to bring the brand to The Paper City (in a historic 150 year old former paper mill no less) means everything to him.
“I’m all about being a game changer,” says Lopez. “And I’m in a movement with game changers, in my city. I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
But it’s not just being part of a brand known for having one of the largest and most curated menus of cannabis products from the Pioneer Valley to the Berkshires, where the flagship Canna Provisions adult-use storefront is located off the Mass Pike. For Lopez, it’s also about changing outdated perceptions on cannabis and cannabis use.
“I’m from a city where weed was considered a real bad thing to begin with, so I feel like I’m a representation of the legal side of weed,” he says. “Showing my town cannabis isn’t what people thought, and being from where it’s now legally being sold gives me a lot of pride.”
Lopez says Canna Provisions as a brand represents everything consumers from novice to experienced are looking for. Think: flower from brands like Nature’s Heritage (“I love their Ethos Chem”, he says) and Strane (“The LA Confidential is great, and a past Cannabis Cup winner”), and the killer edibles from brands like Betty’s Eddies, incredibles, and Tropizen. The latter being new to the Canna Provisions portfolio, with their Pique hot sauce made with Puerto Rican peppers and infused with THC.
The potential legal cannabis has for creating a transformative impact on municipalities is not lost on Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Generating much needed revenue and job creation for a city that is roughly 50% minority (mostly Puerto Rican) is attractive in its own right, but with Morse’s vision, Holyoke - currently in the middle of a revitalization construction boom - may even be one of the first cities in Massachusetts to forge a mini Amsterdam of cannabis-friendly cafes along the canal and art district.
Until then, you can get to Canna Provisions (yes there’s tons of parking!). Be assisted by their knowledgeable “guides” who are focused on listening to your needs and then coaching you on the best products to try or learn about, and smile being a part of history as Holyoke enters the adult-use retail cannabis game to the betterment of the community at large.
BY THE NUMBERS
HOW MANY YEARS THE MILL HAS BEEN AROUND: 150+
HOW MUCH WRITING PAPER IT PRODUCED BY 1922 USED BY THE US: 80%
BLOCKS FROM THE AMTRAK STATION TO GET TO CANNA PROVISIONS HOLYOKE: 4
FEET YOU WILL REMAIN APART FROM IN-STORE PERSONNEL AND CUSTOMERS: 6
# OF TIMES STAFF DISINFECT SURFACES AND HANDS IN A SHIFT: 1,000,000 (estimated)
NUMBER OF PRODUCTS THAT ARE A THC-INFUSED PUERTO RICAN HOT SAUCE: 1
TIMES YOU WILL GO “MAN, THAT’S GOT A BITE TO IT!” WHILE CONSUMING: At least 2
NUMBER OF NACHOS YOU WILL EAT SLATHERED IN THE STUFF: [REDACTED]