How Cannabis Brings People Together in P-Town


As another summer season crests on the horizon, folks are clamoring for hot vacation days spent on the sands of Provincetown, a dreamscape caught at the end of the country and the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean. It's not just LGBTQ+ folks who flock to the magical destination. P-Town hosts retirees living out their twilight years, college kids on summer break, and burgeoning youth escaping the trappings of adult life. There are veterans and patriots, families and friends, foreigners and locals who keep the town buzzing year round.

You may be wondering: How did P-Town become a smorgasbord of diverse people from every background and walk of life? A key ingredient is cannabis, the leafy herb that is as essential to the community as its stunning beaches, welcoming atmosphere, delicious local eateries, and storied history with customs and traditions.

Since cannabis was legalized in Massachusetts, a plethora of homegrown dispensaries – rooted in communal ties that bind – have sprouted up across P-Town. These places aren't just shops and boutiques; they mirror back the residents who call Provincetown home. For instance, there's the Haven Center Boutique Dispensary, a proudly veteran-owned and operated cannabis shop that speaks to military pros who know that scars come with the job. "Our store operations manager is a combat veteran with a deep understanding of the benefits of cannabis," explains the website, a notion that P-Town residents take care of their own and serve those in need.

b/well, likewise, wears its identity on its sleeve with "locally, veteran, woman and LGBTQ owned" emblazoned on a banner at the top of the landing page – a moniker that is every bit the customer base the dispensary serves. Community involvement is just as important to these homegrown cannabis shops as service. "From blood drives to municipality donations, cancer fundraisers and hot meals for the homeless," writes Curaleaf, a P-Town favorite known for its variety of cannabis-infused products, "[the dispensary] has found countless ways to show our communities how much we care."

For some, P-Town finds people where they are at and a feeling of belonging is rooted at an early age. I was fortunate to jump on a Zoom interview with Andrew Koudijs, founder and owner of Hennep, a dispensary he started with his college buddy in P-Town because, growing up with two moms, it was the only place he felt at home. "When I was coming up, I didn't find many families that were like mine," Koudijs confides in me about discovering his place in P-Town. "But during the summers, my mom and her partner took me to Provincetown, where there were plenty of other families just like ours. It wasn't a weird thing to say, and people didn't question it. That made me really love the atmosphere in P-Town."

After graduating from Boston University, Koudijs says it was that same friendly atmosphere in P-Town that sparked the idea to open a dispensary and give back to the community that did so much for his upbringing. "Provincetown is a great place to open a business because the tourism is crazy in the summertime, and it's a very international destination. Through my business, I get to share cannabis with people who normally may not have access to it."

The future is bright for Koudijs and his business. "We plan to open a cultivation facility in August for growing cannabis and manufacturing tinctures, edibles, vapes, etc." He also reveals that the cultivation facility will hopefully give the company access to medical licensure, which will allow him to sell medical cannabis. The benefits are twofold: Medical cannabis offers a 20% discount on state tax, and his will be the only dispensary to carry medicinal products within an hour-and-15-minute drive of Provincetown. Check out Hennep on your next trip to Provincetown, a cannabis shop that knows giving back is the only way forward.

For other P-Town locals, cannabis is a saving grace. Just ask Anna Meade, an environmental engineer managing radioactive and hazardous wastes and teaching chemical safety whose work has taken her as far as the South Pole. She settled in Provincetown over 20 years ago, and when her sister, Mary, was diagnosed with stage four cancer, Anna was determined to help her sister put up a fight. "Suddenly, cannabis was also a way I could help my sister," Anna writes in her book "Cannabis: A Big Sister's Guide," about the sisters uniting over the herbal plant. "The upside of this whole ordeal is that we became much closer."

Well before Meade set out to write the book, she used her years of experience learning about chemical safety and educating engineers as the basis for an informational guide on all things cannabis. She wanted to debunk the stigma surrounding cannabis and become an expert on the topic. In her research, Meade met a myriad of folks – locals of P-Town and beyond – who shared their stories of healing and hope. "Most of the passionate people in this business have a story," says Meade, "a personal connection to how this plant has transformed their lives." The book has become a fan favorite of Provincetown, and a testament to the enduring power of cannabis in the community.

Cannabis in Provincetown has made its way into other works of art, including an annual live show performed at local hotspot Crown & Anchor. Created by drag performer Mackenzie Miller, the ode to cannabis enthusiasts' favorite 420 holiday – titled "420 HEEENNNY 2.0 HD" – finds its place at the intersection of drag and reefer madness. "It only makes sense... we have dispensaries almost like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts around here in Provincetown... so drag and marijuana fit perfectly," Mackenzie told Queer Guru in an online interview last year that spans the performer's backstory and fight to preserve the P-Town flavor with local artists.

"You can bring talent from all over the world, but there is something to be said for embracing the local artistry and keeping Provincetown queer and exciting and fun and fresh and funky." Mackenzie used to vacation in P-Town until nine years ago, when he decided to stay and make the little seaside town at the tip of Cape Cod home. Through a 420 show and drag performances year round, Mackenzie sees their place in the community and continuing the legacy of creating what they dub as "such a safe space" in Provincetown. "I keep making weird stuff and people keep buying tickets, so I'm just gonna keep going." Visit Mackenzie's Facebook page for upcoming performances at Crown & Anchor and don't miss out on their next 420 show.

As I wrapped up my Zoom interview with Andrew Koudijs, owner of local dispensary Hennep, I asked him why he thinks cannabis and Provincetown go together like peanut butter and jelly. "The community fosters an inviting and welcoming spirit that you can't find anywhere else. The stigma of [cannabis] dies here." This summer, don't miss out on a visit to one of the many dispensaries that help make Provincetown a beloved community.

by Roger Porter

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