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Here We Go: Rite of Passage

Nov 27, 2018 08:57PM ● By Dan McCarthy
As the central nerve of East Coast LGBTQ havens, as well as its long history of literary, political and art activism, not to mention killer food and music scene, Provincetown is home to many treasures. And its especially enjoyable in the off-season (less tourists, traffic, stress, etc).

But for anyone who grew up on Cape Cod and sought out some paraphernalia regarding cannabis from pipes and bowls to bongs and bonkers tapestries, Ronny Hazel’s infamous storefront Shop Therapy along Commercial Street has been a rite of passage of sorts.

“Growing up here, everyone around knew when it was time to grab your first bowl or pipe, you had to head here,” says Chris Gagne of C3RN Research Network, who is a born-and-raised Cape Cod denizen. “And everyone had the same advice for first timers: ‘Just make your way upstairs
and through the ocean of dildos and sex gear, and you’ll get what you need.”

These days, Shop Therapy exists a few doors down from the original location, connected through time thanks to some glorious artwork from Bob Gasoi, a painter whose original controversial murals in front of the original shop now blesses the alleyway next to Shop Therapy in a sort of homage to Gasoi’s efforts. Additionally, local visual artist Joey Mars (whose original poster artwork for a series of 1991 rock concerts in Boston led by then-unknown band Pearl Jam and other acts are currently on display at the Verb Hotel in Fenway) supplied the design and mural work on the front of the current Shop Therapy.

And as the Cape’s chairman emeritus of the green scene of the last few decades, Hazel is equipped with more than his fair share of anecdotes. Here’s a choice one, offered in Hazel’s trademark high pitched New Yawk drawl:

“In 1975 I was busted for distribution of weed. I was handcuffed for a long time in my apartment above the old shop, and the cops were in the living room when I remembered I had this duffel bag with about 10lbs of pot in it in the bathroom. I still can’t remember exactly how I did this, but while handcuffed I wound up grabbing the strap and having the bag fall down from the top of the bathroom and on the floor, where I pushed it out the back door while the police were still in my living room. The Front Street restaurant was below me and they keep the back door open for air while working, and this big duffel bag I had falls from the sky and in front of their door. The cook pulled it into the kitchen and after the cops were gone they said, ‘we got this duffel bag…’ and I laughed and told them to just keep it and do whatever they want with it.”

Related: Everyone should have 10lbs of solid flower drop from the heavens into their lap at one point in their life.