Massachusetts Begins Recreational Marijuana Sales
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Massachusetts Begins Recreational Marijuana Sales
Posted by CN Staff on November 20, 2018 at 09:13:50 PT
By Michael Levenson, Felicia Gans and Dan Adams
Source: Boston Globe
Leicester, Massachusetts -- As the doors opened at 8 a.m., a huge cheer went up.The first recreational sales of marijuana in Massachusetts had officially begun at Cultivate, the new Leicester store, and a second retailer in Northampton, signaling the start of legal cannabis sales after more than a century of pot prohibition in the state.
About 40 people flooded into Cultivate, along with a crush of media, selectmen, and the town police chief, witnesses to the first legal recreational marijuana sales on the East Coast. Another 40 customers waited in the rain outside.“Oh, it smells good in here!” said Jennifer DePerrio, a 45-year-old hairdresser from Holden, when she entered the shop after waiting in line for more than two hours.“It’s so exciting,” said DePerrio, an Air Force veteran in a red-white-and-blue bandana who said she consumes marijuana because it eases her back pain and helps her focus. “It’s finally destigmatized and it shouldn’t be generalized as something bad because there are so many benefits for us all.”Veteran Stephen Mandile, of Uxbridge, was chosen to make the first official pot purchase in Leicester, with the city’s police chief on hand to give Mandile an American flag in honor of his service. Mandile bought an eighth-ounce of a strain called Jack Herer and quipped that he’d be “smoking some history” later in the day.Customers in Northampton, a traditionally progressive enclave, were also brimming with enthusiasm Tuesday as the New England Treatment Access shop opened there.Daquaan Hamilton, a 22-year-old UMass Amherst student and bartender-in-training, was among the first inside after waiting in the snow and rain since 12:30 a.m. and said he felt “on top of the world” after buying a vape pen and some edibles.“There are a lot of people throughout our history who have done prison time for such minor offenses — like having weed paraphernalia, or having small amounts on them — and the fact that I can walk out of the store right now with this and not be afraid of anything that can happen to me, it’s pretty great,” he said.The early morning rain didn’t seem to dampen the excitement of prospective customers in both cities who, like Hamilton, waited for hours before the shops opened Tuesday morning.Sandra Bylaska, 62, an unemployed mortgage processor from Berkley, near Taunton, pulled an all-nighter to be among the first. She arrived in Leicester at 3:30 am with chairs and a blanket, expecting to camp out like she was waiting in line for concert tickets. But after she was told the line could not begin forming until 7, she spent the early morning hours wandering in Walmart and 7-Eleven. She said she had fond memories of smoking a “four-fingered” lid of marijuana for $5 when she was a teenager growing up in Quincy and looked forward to getting the cheapest strain possible from Cultivate.“I want a picture of me standing next to a cop with a joint in my mouth because it’s history,” she said. “We can tell the next generation: I remember when.”When the doors finally opened in Northampton, a crush of reporters with cameras and microphones looked on as Mayor David Narkewicz walked up to the counter and handed his driver’s license to NETA cofounder Arnon Vered, ready to become the first official customer at the stroke of 8 a.m.Workers counted down the seconds — “three … two … one!” — and broke into a wild cheer as the mayor handed Vered cash in exchange for a chocolate bar infused with 50 milligrams of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.“Can I get a receipt?” a grinning Narkewicz said to laughs.“Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for making the first purchase of marijuana in the regulated market here in the eastern part of the United States,” Vered said.“I’m proud to have been the first,” Narkewicz told reporters moments later. “I think it sends a symbolic message that an elected official is giving credibility to this industry that for years … has been stigmatized. Now we’re bringing it out of the shadows.”He said he would likely donate his chocolate bar — a “personal purchase” he will not expense to taxpayers — to Historic Northampton, a local historical group.The mayor praised NETA, which has been open for several years as a medical dispensary, for being a “great community member.”“We’ve literally had zero issues,” he said. “No increased crime, no diversion [of products to the illicit market] — none of the concerns that were expressed.”Not everyone celebrated the beginning of the state’s recreational marijuana sales. A few hours before the stores opened, the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or SAM, said the organization forsees increases in drivers operating under the influence of drugs and a rise in emergency room visits as a result of legalization.“Today is the beginning of a dark time for the Bay State,” SAM said in a press release. “Moving forward, SAM will work with local partners to expose this predatory industry as it brings the harms we have seen in other legalized states to Massachusetts.”For DePerrio, who ended up buying a hybrid cannabis wax, which she plans to consume in a vape pen, and a “Skywalker” pre-rolled joint, spending the $94 was worth it.After paying in cash, she headed out the door to work. She said she planned to enjoy her purchases Tuesday night at home, as she got ready for Thanksgiving.“It makes your life so much easier,” she said. “It’s better than tequila. And I like tequila.”Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Michael Levenson, Felicia Gans and Dan Adams, Globe StaffPublished: November 20, 2018Copyright: 2018 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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