PITTSFIELD — When April 20 rolls around, a group of Berkshire County employees will have reason to celebrate.
Temescal Wellness is taking a puff and a pass on business as usual on 4/20, closing down its Framingham offices, Pittsfield, Framingham and Hudson dispensaries and its processing operation in Worcester. The company is giving its nearly 100 employees the day off with pay to allow for the celebration of cannabis’ high holiday.
Sian Leiniger, the director of retail at Temescal Wellness, said the idea to make 4/20 a company holiday came from the top: Alex Hardy, the company’s chief executive officer.
Last year, Hardy proposed giving employees a break on what traditionally is one of the company’s busiest retail days. This year Temescal Wellness is making that idea a reality.
“We saw it as a great opportunity to do something for our staff,” Leiniger said, “and also just really make this an actual holiday and try and normalize and destigmatize it being a cannabis holiday.”
The origins of the holiday are still a little hazy but most sources point to the code used by a group of northern California high schoolers in the 1970s to signal their after-school smoke break. The group would regularly meet at 4:20 p.m. at a nearby statute and light up.
The term “420” is promoted on a Grateful Dead concert poster in 1990, along with a story that it’s the police code for marijuana smoking in progress. The story is passed around until it makes its way to the cannabis-focused publication High Times in New York which proclaims April 20, the translation of the code into a date, as a holiday.
In states with recreational cannabis sales, 4/20 has taken on the fervor of other retail holidays; think Black Friday. Employees working in the cannabis industry have customers wishing them a “Happy 4/20” as they work through what Lieiniger called a “wild day,” tied to the sales floor or register, unable to join in on the cannabis fest.
Leiniger said the company’s employees “work really hard all year to do exactly that, to give people access to education, knowledge, compassion [around cannabis] and so this is just kind of trying to turn this day into a celebration of all of that.”
She doesn’t expect to see many other dispensaries in Massachusetts taking a similar approach this year, but she’s hopeful April 20 will become a more mainstream holiday in years to come.
With Temescal Wellness dispensaries in Pittsfield, Framingham and Hudson closing up shop, Leininger said the company will be trying to spread out the typical holiday business over the course of the month.
“We never really want anyone to show up and be disappointed, but for us, we think our customers and our patients appreciate our team just like we do,” Leiniger said. “We’re just trying to message that we’re here every other day of April.”
Temescal Wellness is planning to sweeten the deal for customers as well. The company will have specials and bundles on sale leading up to the holiday and is planning on offering special sales for its medical cannabis patients.