After a two-decade career in healthcare in a busy California ER, Chris Weld moved back to New England and settled with his family on an old apple farm in Sheffield, a right-to-farm village in the southwest corner of Massachusetts known for endless rows of corn and Revolutionary-era uprisings. A historic and pristine granite-based spring on his farm inspired Weld to create Berkshire Mountain Distillers
in 2007, with the distillery earning national accolades.
After 10 years producing craft spirits, the legalization of recreational cannabis prompted Weld to participate in an industry that is aligned with the creative, mindful, and agricultural ethos of the Berkshires. Long a believer in the use of cannabis for wellness, Weld has seen the positive economic impacts on local communities driven by Community Impact Fee contributions, town and state taxes, good-paying jobs, and increased revenue for local businesses. The Pass
, a vertically-integrated cannabis company, opened its first retail outlet in 2020 and distributes its branded products to 30+ dispensaries across Massachusetts.
Getting into cannabis was a natural step for someone who has been a lifelong gardener and avid cook. Weld’s distillery experience also lends itself to a fuller understanding of flavor profiles, distillation techniques, and agricultural practices. The scientist in him was fascinated by the uses and breeding of a plant used the world over for thousands of years.
Weld’s background in biochemistry and twenty years on the frontline of an ER inform his empirical view of why adults should have access to legal cannabis. Cannabis exhibits proven benefits for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety, epilepsy, pain, and sleep disorders; and draconian and ineffectual drug laws have historically and disproportionately impacted BIPOC. Weld eagerly looks forward to the research that federal legalization of cannabis will allow, with much-needed exploration of the health and wellness benefits of the plant and its chemical components, and greater potential for social and economic impact.
- After a two-decade career in healthcare in a busy California ER, Chris Weld headed back to his New England roots, becoming an entrepreneur and one of the first craft distillers in the U.S., winning nationwide accolades for his spirits.
- Chris Weld created the award-winning craft distillery Berkshire Mountain Distillers in 2007, with his spirits earning accolades by the NY Times, Washington Post, James Beard Foundation, Boston Globe, Playboy Magazine, GQ, Cool Hunting, and Details.
- Weld established his distillery in Sheffield, Mass., a small, rural, right-to-farm town in southwestern Massachusetts.
- Cannabis use was not an issue in the ER; cannabis exhibits proven benefits for those suffering from PTSD, epilepsy, pain, and sleep disorders;
- Weld eagerly looks forward to the research that federal legalization of cannabis will trigger, with much-needed exploration of the health and wellness benefits of the plant and its chemical components, and great potential for social and economic impacts.
- When The Pass’ new facility is fully operational, Berkshire Welco will have created about 100 jobs, a sizable amount for a small rural town and an area suffering from population loss and brain-drain.
- The Pass/Welco has created jobs in an area that continues to experience population decline and loss of good-paying jobs; co-founder Chris Weld first made news and created jobs in Sheffield when he founded his award-winning craft distillery, Berkshire Mountain Distillers (NY Times rates Greylock Gin #1), in Sheffield in 2007.
- The Pass/Welco is adding a third, 40,000 square-foot facility that will initially create 30 new full-time jobs to support manufacturing, processing, and packaging. This will bring the total Welco job count to approximately 100 positions, a sizable amount for a small rural town like Sheffield, and there are plans for further expansion in the future.
- The Pass is a startup that is poised to scale, with a talented group of folks who possess a startup mentality (creativity, nimbleness, ability to pivot, dogged and passionate) and the skills (agriculture/production experience, retail expertise, wholesale and distribution expertise, marketing prowess, business strategy) to make it happen.
- The new site will first increase production to meet statewide demand, with additional space and increased extraction capabilities, and plans for newer technologies to come online at the former extrusion factory.
- The Pass is currently using ethanol extraction for distillate and concentrates. At its new production site, the company will add hydro-carbon extraction and nanotechnology for edibles, creating quicker onset of the products’ health and wellness benefits, especially for conditions like anxiety and pain.
- Staff is a talented group of individuals with diverse backgrounds, including many former food industry and agriculture experts, longtime West Coast cannabis industry pros, a former art-dealer-turned-weed-dealer, a geologist, and one director who spent 6 years in R+D at Dupont.