It’s a little sad that the first cannabis edible purchased legally in Massachusetts — a $24 dark chocolate bar with 54mg of THC purchased in 2018 — was never eaten. But where its owner lost out on historic chocolate taste, the rest of us cannabis history nerds have gained; the treat will now be on view to the world at a Northampton museum.
The 28,000-resident town in which the edible has lived its life as an un-utilized consumer product now has over a half-dozen dispensaries. If that seems excessive, talk to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who at the most recent local opening of a cannabis store said, “I like to always remind [people who are incredulous about the number of dispensaries in the community] that we have 17 licensed liquor stores in Northampton and I have never once had anyone ask me, ‘Don’t you think we have too many liquor stores? Can the market sustain 17 liquors stores?’”
Perhaps it is no surprise that the town’s famous edible is destined for an institutional existence. Narkewicz himself purchased it—a seemingly clear instance in nepotism in which the city’s leader was allowed to step to the front of the cannabis-buying line on November 20, 2018 at a dispensary named New England Treatment Access. At the time I wrote that, “He didn’t take a bite right away, and was by some accounts having trouble hanging onto his purchase. Reports say Narkewicz was being urged to donate his history-making candy bar to the Northampton Historical Society.”
Reports were right. 20 days from the end of his term, Narkewicz has announced that the bar will be “cased in a custom-made plexiglass box and adorned with a plaque commemorating the momentous day for the state,” according to a local news site.
The Southampton owner of Award 1 Engraving, Rusty Wilkinson, says he’s honored by the request to build the box. “Anytime I’m asked to do something that requires my expertise or skills, I find it an honor,” he commented.
Such pot preservation has not always been encouraged. In Colorado, the person in possession of the first legally-purchased recreational cannabis-infused chocolate bar said he was unable to interest an institution in displaying the edible.
“Museums don't want it, and I'm afraid to frame it,” said Sean Azzariti.
That short-sightedness is stunning, and it is very well that the Northampton community has sought to document its culture’s edibles journey, as it were. After all, the practice of eating cannabis has been around some 4,000 years and originated in Southeast Asia, according to historian Chris S. Duvall. Different legacies of eating weed have been established in various regions around the world, including India’s ground-breaking, drinkable bhang and the majoun or majun (pastry balls) of North African Berber tribes. Between the 1960s notoriously weedy pot brownies and the rapidly-diversifying markets of today (dosed shrimp chips, anyone?), edible products are one way of tracking human diversity and societal evolution.
Which means, if you are in Northampton and have it in your power to check out the city’s history museum, please go pay homage to the mayor’s bar.