Grow, Gift, Repair

Consumers say Massachusetts weed stinks — and not in a good way

In interviews and social media posts, many said the marijuana here — all of which must be grown within the state — has gradually improved since recreational sales began in late 2018. But their overriding perception was a negative one, with most who responded to the Globe’s call for reviews saying the market remains riddled with mediocre or even defective flower sold at premium prices.

“People from other states don’t want our weed when they visit,” said Chandra Batra, a Cambridge resident who uses the drug to treat her fibromyalgia. “They think it’s a bad joke.”

Executives and cultivation experts at six major cannabis producers (all of which also operate retail stores) said it took them months to refine their indoor growing and curing techniques to account for the state’s variable climate and strict testing standard for microbes. That could help explain one of the biggest gripes from consumers: dried-out flower that’s harsh to smoke or vaporize.

“What you saw a lot of in Massachusetts, especially early on, was people sacrificing quality to pass testing through a quick drying process” that eliminates moisture that could harbor mold, said Brandon Pollock, chief executive of multistate cannabis firm Theory Wellness.

“Some organizations use irradiation and heat treatments during the curing process,” Pollock added, “and those things have a negative effect on the end product,” especially the compounds that give each strain its distinctive flavor and smell.

Growers attributed another frequent complaint — stale, bland-smelling cannabis sold months after its harvest date — to COVID-related staff shortages and a backlog at the state’s relatively small number of licensed marijuana-testing labs that has since improved, resulting in better quality weed making it to the shelves sooner.