The first recreational cannabis stores on the east coast opened for business Tuesday morning in Leicester and Northampton, Massachusetts. Hundreds turned out for the openings, including Mayor David Narkewicz, who was the first customer to legally purchase a cannabis product at the Northampton store, according to NBC News.
The historical event comes more than two years since recreational use of cannabis was made legal in Massachusetts. New England Treatment Access (NETA) of Northampton and Cultivate Holdings, a medical cannabis facility, of Leicester, both opened their doors today at 8 a.m. where scores of people were waiting to get in, according to WCVB.
Massachusetts legalized medical cannabis in 2012 and recreational cannabis in 2016. Now the state is open for business sales. Narkewicz reported his purchase, a cannabis-infused chocolate bar, was merely “symbolic” and that he would be putting it on display as a sign of the historical event taking place, according to NBC News.
“I am proud that Northampton is playing a roll in this historic day by ending some 80 years of prohibition in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and moving into a new modern era, where we have safe, tested, well-regulated, adult-use marijuana,” Narkewicz told WCVB.
He also took to Twitter to show off his receipt of the first purchase of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts.
The first recreational cannabis purchase in Leicester at Cultivate Holdings was made by Stephen Mandile, an Army veteran. As a medical cannabis advocate, Mandile was honored to take part of the historical event.
“It’s an honor. It’s something amazing. I probably dreamed about it back in high school that this day would happen sometime but to actually do it today is amazing. To have veterans recognized, not just myself but to be able to bring other veterans with me and have it focused around that, is super special to me,” Mandile told WCVB.
Products for purchase at the two shops include a multitude of cannabis strains in flower form, as well as pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, and edibles, such as brownies and chocolate bars. State regulations allow individuals to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis in any form, whether flower or concentrates. Only those who are 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis.
Steven Hoffman, the chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, expressed to NBC News that the road to recreational sales was a long, tough process. The safety and supply of recreational cannabis was of great concern to Massachusetts regulators, according to WCVB. But recreational sales of cannabis are reportedly expected to bring in more consumers to Northampton and Leicester.