2 Marijuana Shops In Massachusetts Are Now Open For Business

Nov 20, 2018

Updated 2:48 p.m.

The big day has finally arrived: Two years and two weeks after Massachusetts voters said they wanted to purchase recreational marijuana legally in the state, two stores are now open for anyone 21 and older.

New England Treatment Access, also known as NETA, in Northampton, and Cultivate in Leicester both opened their doors at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

A veteran was the first customer in each shop — Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz at NETA and Stephen Mandile at Cultivate.

Daqqan Hamilton, who lives in Northampton and works at a bar, was first in line. He told NEPR what was on his shopping list.

"I'm going to get a vape pen and some edibles," Hamilton said. "I'm going to get some gummies, and maybe a chocolate, I think."

Also waiting in line at NETA before sales began was Eric Liedberg of Montague, Massachusetts. He said he's been waiting for this day since he was 13 years old.

"That was the first time I smoked marijuana and decided, wow, this is really good stuff," Liedberg said. "And why should I have to sneak around and face jail time, and so on and so forth, just to sit back and smoke a little cannabis? So, since I was 13, yeah, I have been waiting to legally buy marijuana. What a concept, huh?" 

Brittany Beso, who had been standing in line at Cultivate since 7 a.m., said she was excited to be among the first to legally purchase cannabis in the state for recreational purposes.

"It's my first day of Thanksgiving vacation, and I'm here, and I wouldn't want it any other way," she said.

Sam Barber, president and owner of Cultivate, was also excited for the shop's long-awaited opening: "It's pretty surreal. We've been working on this for a long time, and to finally see everything come together as well as it has ... really proud of our team and all the hard work they've put in."

Cultivate's menu for the day offers pre-rolled joints, single-use vape pens, edibles and more, for prices ranging from $10 for a THC and CBD-infused lip balm to $225 for one ounce of flower (the legal limit you can buy in one purchase).

The rollout of legal pot sales has been slow in Massachusetts, with regulators saying they wanted to make sure it was done safely and without some of the supply issues other states have faced.

Now that the two stores are open, the Cannabis Control Commission will continue to process license applications for more stores. Already, the CCC has issued provisional licenses for 20 other retailers and on Tuesday is expected to vote on issuing two more retailers final licenses, which would allow them to begin compiling an inventory in anticipation of opening.

Uber riders should receive an email on Tuesday morning from the transportation company and Mother's Against Drunk Driving reminding them on the first day of legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts that driving while high is dangerous.

It remains to be seen if other New England states will follow Massachusetts's lead. 

Charles LaBelle of Coventry, Connecticut, waited in line outside NETA on Tuesday morning braving rain and snow. He said he'd like to see his home state do what Massachusetts has done.

"Ned Lamont, the new governor in Connecticut, he very much supports legalization in Connecticut for recreational purposes," LaBelle said. "And as a tax income thing, Massachusetts just opened up the new casino, so Connecticut's got to do something to compete."

In Vermont, where marijuana is legal, a state commission is looking into retail sales. And in Rhode Island, a spokesman for Governor Gina Raimondo said the governor "remains open" to exploring legalization options there.

A version of this report was originally published by WBUR, and includes information from State House News Service and The Associated Press.