National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst
May18

National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst

The big scissors were out in Amherst this week as the CEO of the national company Green Thumb Industries (GTI) cut the ribbon in front of the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary, called RISE Amherst. Despite being based in Chicago, Pete Kadens, director and CEO of GTI, said that GTI wants to be a positive contributor to the community by helping to alleviate the opioid crisis by offering an alternative medicine and employing...

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Peace activists brave weather, demand Israel be held accountable for violence
May16

Peace activists brave weather, demand Israel be held accountable for violence

Despite the violent rain and thunderstorms, about 50 activists, including some from the group Jewish Voice for Peace Western Mass, gathered on May 15th in Northampton to commemorate the exile of Palestinians 70 years ago and to bring attention to the Palestinian protesters who were killed this week by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. The event was held outside of the Unitarian Church in Northampton. Joseph Levine, a philosophy professor at...

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Following alleged assault, tattoo parlor looks at what it could have done differently
May03

Following alleged assault, tattoo parlor looks at what it could have done differently

Following public backlash online, the owner of Off the Map tattoo Gabe Ripley says that he regrets not having a no tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault in the shop four years ago, but that there is now a no tolerance policy in place. There was harsh criticism on Facebook on May 1 after Off the Map published a post about tattoo artist Watsun Atkinsun, who was accused of violating and sexually harassing a customer at Off...

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Off the Map Tattoo facing public backlash over alleged in-shop sexual assault
May02

Off the Map Tattoo facing public backlash over alleged in-shop sexual assault

Editor’s note: Off the Map Tattoo was recently recognized in the Best of the Valley Readers Poll, which is awarded by readers. The Valley Advocate is not affiliated with the tattoo parlor. Off the Map Tattoo is facing public criticism online over its continued relationship with a tattoo artist who allegedly sexually assaulted a client while tattooing her in 2014. Off the Map tattoo, which has three locations, including one in...

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Expanded ArtWeek a big opportunity for small galleries and emerging artists
May01

Expanded ArtWeek a big opportunity for small galleries and emerging artists

Only five years ago, ArtWeek was a series of 25 events in Boston. This year, ArtWeek, which started on April 27 and runs until May 6, expanded to Central and Western Massachusetts and includes over 525 events, making it the only statewide art festival in Massachusetts. For artists, small galleries, and craftspeople in the Pioneer Valley, ArtWeek represents a unique opportunity to get new people involved in the Western Mass art...

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Mass Cannabis Chefs elevate edibles across the state
Apr27

Mass Cannabis Chefs elevate edibles across the state

What does cannabis taste like? Many people might describe it as earthy, pungent, or bitter. According to Joe Nelson, 29, of Plymouth, one of the chefs and co-founders of Mass Cannabis Chefs, the idea that all cannabis tastes the same is a misconception. “It’s different all the time, it’s different for every plant,” Nelson said. Nelson said that he has tried plants that taste citrusy and lemony, and plants that taste more like pine. As...

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A skip, hop, and a jump away: A local, adult jump rope team makes it to nationals
Apr26

A skip, hop, and a jump away: A local, adult jump rope team makes it to nationals

http://valleyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/video-1524758618.mp4 “As far as we know we’re the only (team) that jumps in a bar,” said Jennifer Therkelsen, 31, of Shutesbury. Therkelson, who is the fundraising manager for the all-adult Pioneer Valley Jump Rope team, was referring to the team’s practice locale, which is the Taproom in Hadley. The team is there, providing a sort of unique form of live entertainment on...

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“Water, water everywhere”: Mass. program helps towns prepare for climate change
Apr25

“Water, water everywhere”: Mass. program helps towns prepare for climate change

Over 20 municipal leaders from all over Western Mass attended an April 24 meeting with state environmental officials to discuss a state grant program that will help communities all over the Commonwealth to prepare for their unique climate change needs. Katie Theoharides, assistant secretary of climate change at the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs department, opened the meeting in Greenfield with two powerful images. The...

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Valley made sex toys fill gaps in the market
Apr24

Valley made sex toys fill gaps in the market

Over the past 20 years, people have begun to care more and more about what goes into their bodies. Most think about this in terms of the food they eat, but for customers of Oh My Sensuality Shop in Northampton, the same can be said for sex toys. “Most companies have become more aware of what they’re selling,” said Beth Meyers, co-owner of Oh My. “I feel like the retailers really pushed this movement through.” With that in mind, it...

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Beyond 4/20: Criminal Justice Reform and Cannabis in Mass
Apr20

Beyond 4/20: Criminal Justice Reform and Cannabis in Mass

If any day could be called National Marijuana Day, it’s 4/20. Cannabis consumers are celebrating an exciting year for cannabis in Massachusetts with the first recreational marijuana licenses already approved, but many people, particularly in communities of color, are still dealing with the effects of prohibition. Andrew Stachiw is a worker owner at Toolbox for Education and Social Action; he’s worked with people at the Franklin County...

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Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses
Apr13

Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses

April 20 (4/20) can be an auspicious day for cannabis-related businesses. But this year, some of them will see their bank accounts abruptly closed. Citizens Bank, based in Providence, Rhode Island, informed an unknown number of customers with connections to the cannabis industry that they would be closing their accounts on April 20, offering no explanation in the letter as to why. “We felt like having the account closed on 4/20 was...

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Springfield police union pickets Sarno following contract negotiation breakdowns
Apr11

Springfield police union pickets Sarno following contract negotiation breakdowns

Sarno repeatedly calls himself a “law and order mayor,” but for Springfield’s police union president, his recent decision to leave the bargaining table speaks louder than his words. “The fair thing to say is that we judge people on how they treat us,” said Joseph Gentile, president of the Springfield Patrolman’s Union, IBPO Local 364. “This is very disrespectful, I would say that it would make me question some of what he’s said in the...

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UMass unions take contract demands to trustees
Apr10

UMass unions take contract demands to trustees

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees meet at UMass Amherst once a year, and this year, on April 6, they were met by union employees from all over the state demanding “respect and fair contracts.” “Our belts are as tight as they’re going to get,” said Eve Weinbaum, president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors union and a associate professor in the department of sociology at UMass Amherst. “We’re expecting them to...

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O’ Cannabis! Inhale, Exhale: Cannabis friendly yoga comes to the Valley
Apr10

O’ Cannabis! Inhale, Exhale: Cannabis friendly yoga comes to the Valley

Slow, meditative breathing is an important part of most yoga classes, but at Chronic Trips’ first cannabis-friendly yoga class on April 7, there was also a different kind of inhaling going on. “We want to reduce the stigma of the lazy stoner,” said Chronic Trips owner Seth Frappier. Frappier hosted the first Inhale Exhale yoga at Ora Care in Springfield, a store and café that sells hemp and CBD (cannabidiol) products. Participants...

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Holyoke Public School bus drivers irked over contract change
Apr04

Holyoke Public School bus drivers irked over contract change

When Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) announced in March that they will be changing their special education transportation contract from minibuses to vans, Anna Gonzales was concerned for her son’s well-being. Gonzales, who lives in Holyoke, has three children who have special needs. Her 10-year-old son is currently transported to and from a public school in Holyoke on a minibus, with the assistance of a bus monitor. For Gonzales and her...

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Cannabis industry leaders gather at Hampshire College summit to widen appeal of plant
Apr02

Cannabis industry leaders gather at Hampshire College summit to widen appeal of plant

Adult-use cannabis was legalized by Massachusetts voters in 2016, but based on the number of moratoriums and bans that have passed across the state since then, it’s clear that there are still some mixed feelings about cannabis on the local level. “Like every other movement this is about relationships,” said Marie Salgado, who does community outreach in Holyoke and at Hampshire College. “There’s so much education that needs to happen.”...

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Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film
Mar29

Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film

Black Panther smashed global box office records when it opened in February, and like any good action movie part of the magic of Black Panther is the soundtrack. While watching the movie, there’s one part of the soundtrack that you might not notice at first: the tama, or the talking drums. The album written by Kendrick Lamar to accompany the movie got a lot of hype, but the music that really carries the action of the film is the...

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Pick of the Day 3/29: The Take at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center
Mar29

Pick of the Day 3/29: The Take at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center

The Take is a documentary film made in 2004 about a group of unemployed Argentinian auto-workers who decided to restart the plant where they used to work as a cooperatively owned business. Using archival footage, director Avi Lewis and writer Naomi Klein give a often unseen look at a group of radical workers who just want to work, but end up fighting the police, the government, and globalization. The event is being hosted by the...

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Audio: Northampton dispatcher appears to give auto shop owner the OK to tow cars during march
Mar28

Audio: Northampton dispatcher appears to give auto shop owner the OK to tow cars during march

Audio obtained by the Advocate from the Northampton Police Department indicates that a dispatcher from the Northampton Police Department told Jeffrey Tenczar, the owner of Greg’s Auto Repair in Northampton, that he could tow 14 vehicles from his private lot on Saturday, March 24. The issue came to a head on Saturday when people attending the March for Our Lives in Northampton parked in Tenczar’s private lot because it was...

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Advocates demand legislative action on paid family and medical leave, $15 minimum wage
Mar28

Advocates demand legislative action on paid family and medical leave, $15 minimum wage

For Alicia Fleming of Chicopee, getting paid family and medical leave isn’t about politics, it’s about survival. “As a single mom, paid family leave is of the utmost importance to the well being of my family,” Fleming said. Fleming told a room of about 150 people at the South Congregational Church in Springfield on March 28 about the year her mother passed away, and about how the time she had to take off of work cost her money she...

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Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many
Mar28

Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many

With the last of the snow (hopefully) behind us, many people across the Pioneer Valley are looking forward to celebrating religious holidays in the early Spring. I was not raised Christian Orthodox, but I often celebrated Easter with my family with Orthodox food and traditions from across Eastern Europe. My stepmom taught my brothers and I how to make Pysanky eggs —  Ukranian Easter eggs — by making patterns on the eggs with wax and...

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Owners of cars towed at Northampton gun control rally accusing business owner of political motivation
Mar26

Owners of cars towed at Northampton gun control rally accusing business owner of political motivation

Jeffrey and Jennifer Tenczar, owners of Greg’s Auto Repair in Northampton, didn’t understand why their lot was filling up on a Saturday morning to the point that it was affecting their business until they called police about getting the vehicles towed and learned people were parking there to participate in the protest against gun violence called the March For Our Lives. Following their decision to tow more than a dozen of the cars...

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O Cannabis! Small Town of Erving Wrestles with Big Cannabis Question
Mar23

O Cannabis! Small Town of Erving Wrestles with Big Cannabis Question

The statewide adult-use cannabis regulations are finally in place, but for many small towns the almost-90 pages of regulations aren’t much help when it comes to actual implementation. In Erving, a town with a population of 1,800, planning board members have been preparing their adult-use cannabis bylaw since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016. While Erving isn’t a big retail town, planning board members believe that the...

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O’ Cannabis!: An interactive map of marijuana moratoriums and bans in Pioneer Valley
Mar23

O’ Cannabis!: An interactive map of marijuana moratoriums and bans in Pioneer Valley

Towns and cities across the commonwealth have already passed marijuana moratoriums and bans as the date that the state can issue business licenses draws closer. Below is a map of moratoriums (in yellow) and bans (in red) in the Pioneer Valley to date. Those cities and towns that will allow the sale of recreational cannabis are in green, of course. This map was compiled using publicly available documents and local media. Click on...

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Pick of the Day 3/24: Darlingside at the Academy of Music
Mar23

Pick of the Day 3/24: Darlingside at the Academy of Music

If you like folk and bluegrass and haunting vocals you shouldn’t miss Darlingside’s tour stop at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton. I’m a little biased because the four members of Darlingside met while they were attending my alma mater, Williams College but their music really speaks for itself. Their Northampton stop is part of their US tour for their brand new album Extralife, which was released in February. 7:30 p.m....

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Dr. Schnuffie’s Flu Fighter a Local Solution to Illness
Mar21

Dr. Schnuffie’s Flu Fighter a Local Solution to Illness

Even though it didn’t get a catchy name, this flu season in the United States has been the most severe since the swine flu epidemic in 2009. While influenza season is winding down with the melting snow, there are still a few more risky weeks to get through. Thankfully, one local product that does have a catchy name may be just the hero Western Mass needs to fight off influenza. Dr. Schnuffie’s is not in fact a Winnie the Pooh...

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O Cannabis: Pot and Pets, THC a No-No but CBD Shows Promise
Mar16

O Cannabis: Pot and Pets, THC a No-No but CBD Shows Promise

While the humans, are away the pets will play, but if cannabis is in the house, it could be a health risk to your furry friends. Doctor Ellie Shelburne, one of the co-owners of the Northampton Veterinary Clinic, said that cannabis is one of the top 10 toxins she treats for at the Northampton Veterinary Clinic. “THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is much more toxic to dogs and cats than it is to people,” Shelburne said. According to the...

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O, Cannabis! Craft marijuana co-ops in the Valley?
Mar14

O, Cannabis! Craft marijuana co-ops in the Valley?

The Pioneer Valley has a rich agricultural history and is home to many famous products, including “Hadley grass” (asparagus grown in Hadley) and enough tobacco in the 1800s for the region to be known as the “tobacco valley.” The Valley now has the opportunity to take advantage of growing a different kind of grass: cannabis. Will cannabis be the next craft product making a name for itself as a high-quality, Valley-grown product? Local...

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O Cannabis: CCC finalizes cannabis regulations, weed cafes don’t make the cut
Mar07

O Cannabis: CCC finalizes cannabis regulations, weed cafes don’t make the cut

Cannabis regulations were finally finalized on March 6 and Massachusetts marijuana enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in 2018. Medical marijuana patients will be protected from shortages and applicants from communities worst affected by cannabis criminalization will be prioritized for licenses. But unfortunately, the dream of Massachusetts paving the way in America with cannabis cafes and yoga studios has been put on the back...

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O: Cannabis: ‘Little pieces of art’ — the magic of making professional edibles
Feb20

O: Cannabis: ‘Little pieces of art’ — the magic of making professional edibles

Algebra and edibles do not usually mix, but for Mark Wikar one is absolutely essential for creating the other. Even though his background is as a pastry chef, Wikar now uses a lot of math to create perfectly dosed edibles at INSA, a medical cannabis dispensary that opened in Easthampton this month. “My mom was a math teacher but I didn’t really pay attention,” Wikar joked. Wikar is the head of edible manufacturing at INSA where he...

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O Cannabis: Questions at Greenfield Cannabis Control Commission Meeting Run the Gamut
Feb09

O Cannabis: Questions at Greenfield Cannabis Control Commission Meeting Run the Gamut

Franklin County has a rich agricultural history, so it was no surprise that several different farmers spoke at the public forum hosted by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) in Greenfield. The forum, which was hosted on Tuesday, is one of 10 public forums happening all over the state through February 14. The forums are a chance for public to bring their thoughts and concerns about the draft regulations to the CCC before the final...

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O Cannabis: How to use marijuana at home without smoking it
Feb07

O Cannabis: How to use marijuana at home without smoking it

As recreational and medical marijuana legalization laws continue to pass state by state, more and more people are curious about cannabis. As different people are willing to try cannabis for recreation or medicine, the image from That ’70s Show of a group of people in smoke filled basement passing around a joint no longer dominates as the picture of cannabis consumers. Many people don’t like smoking but are interested in the medicinal...

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Too High to Drive? New App Allows Marijuana Users to Test Their Impairment Level
Jan24

Too High to Drive? New App Allows Marijuana Users to Test Their Impairment Level

Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis use for adults in Massachusetts over a year ago, there is still no standard of measure or device to test people behind the wheel for marijuana intoxication. This presents a problem for law enforcement officers who don’t have the equivalent of a breathalyzer and the .08 blood alcohol content standard for cannabis use, and also for people who are concerned that they may be impaired and...

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So … Is Pot Legal or Not in Massachusetts?
Jan16

So … Is Pot Legal or Not in Massachusetts?

Despite the support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out a federal memo this month that makes the future of cannabis in Massachusetts even more unsure. According to a Gallup poll from 2017, 64 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, which is the highest level of public support they have found in nearly a half decade. Despite this wide public support and...

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O Cannabis: Time to Get Growing
Jan08

O Cannabis: Time to Get Growing

Bay Staters are still waiting for finalized regulations for the commercial recreational marijuana industry in Massachusetts, but the regulations around adult recreational use for individuals were established in December 2016. After voters passed Question 4 on the 2016 ballot, lawmakers passed the “Regulation of the Use and Distribution of Marijuana not Medically Prescribed” law that legalized personal use and possession of up to one...

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