PROVINCETOWN – On December 15, recreational marijuana will become legal in Massachusetts.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Ronny Hazel, the owner of Shop Therapy, which he has described as a head shop. “For 40 to 50 years, I’ve been dealing with people that smoke pot.” Shop Therapy opened in 1974, he said. “Before that, I had a store on Bleeker Street in the Village,” said Hazel.
While state and local officials grapple with how to implement a law that was approved by voters, but that many officials do not want, Hazel said, “I never pushed for legalization. They’ll figure it out eventually,” he said.
“I used to question, was anybody aware of just how many people out there smoke pot? Not huge potheads. But people coming to me, discretely, quietly, for the past 50 years.” – Ronny Hazel, owner of Shop Therapy
“It’s an evolution,” said Hazel. “It had to happen. The potheads out there, these guys have money. They are political. They are advocates. They’ve got money and they throw their money where their mouth is.”
And now that recreational marijuana will be legal, Hazel said “the establishment is about to find out just how many people smoke pot. I sold a pipe to an 80-year-old grandmother yesterday.”
Hazel said he “grew up in the business of pot paraphernalia.” He has also been a pot smuggler, a pot dealer, and is a lifelong pot smoker.
As the owner of Cape Cod’s oldest pot paraphernalia store, Hazel said, “I used to take a lot of heat.” And beyond his store, he said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been arrested for possession of marijuana. I was arrested when it was a felony, but I was 15 so it went to juvenile court. A felony. Imagine.”
While he has watched attitudes towards the drug and its paraphernalia evolve, Hazel said, “I used to question, was anybody aware of just how many people out there smoke pot? Not huge potheads. But people coming to me, discretely, quietly, for the past 50 years.”
As for the law, Hazel asked simply, “What was all the excitement over all these years? They finally grew up and passed the law. But does it mean anything? No. Everybody already has the opportunity to smoke pot.”
He said his only concern is people smoking while driving. “You’ll never see me toking and driving,” he said. “That’s crazy.”
“Other than that, we know it’s a harmless recreational drug,” he said.
Of course, several people, including some elected officials, law enforcement officials, and some in the medical community disagree. On the other hand, many seem to agree, including the majority of Massachusetts voters.
Amid reports that law may be changed or delayed, it is clear that some in what Hazel calls “the establishment” are not happy the law has passed.
“Everybody’s freaking out. That’s crazy,” said Hazel. “If you drink liquor, you go to the liquor store. I don’t drink liquor. I don’t go to the liquor store,” he said.
In the past few months, before and after the November 8 vote to legalize recreational marijuana, “one of of every three customers asks me if we are going to be selling pot. I’d say, ‘I’ve been selling pot my whole life, lady.’ And they laugh. But given my background, I don’t think I’d ever get a license,” said Hazel.
And he had one more thought on the new law. “It’s all about the taxes,” said Hazel.
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