The state of Massachusetts made history this week by becoming the first East coast state to open retail shops for the sale of recreational cannabis intended for adult use. This of course is great news for the many enthusiasts in the surrounding areas as Massachusetts is now the seventh state to open retail cannabis shops and the very first to open them east of the Mississippi river. Under the new regulations, dispensaries can now sell each customer no more than an ounce of cannabis flower or 20 servings of edibles, which both must be sold in child-resistant packaging. As you can imagine, there is plenty of excitement among folks with talk of hundreds of people waiting in line for over two hours in order to be able to legally purchase their cannabis for the first time there.
It appears that not only civilians are looking to get in on the fun. According to a recent report from CBS News out of Northampton, where one of only two dispensaries opening in the state is located, the town’s mayor, David Narkewicz, became the ceremonial first customer. Narkewicz was quoted as saying “I think there’s a lot going on here in trying to bring marijuana out of the shadows,” about the fight to move recreational cannabis use out from under the control of the black market. “There has been marijuana use going on in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a long, long time. What’s changing is it’s now being regulated. It’s now being tested. It’s now being strictly monitored. That’s really the major change that’s happening,” Narkewizc also stated.
However, when the mayor was asked if he planned on consuming the cannabis, Narkewicz said, “I am actually going to probably preserve it and display it…because it is historically significant.” Amanda Rositano, the director of operational compliance for New England Treatment Access (or NETA) one of the only two shops that are currently open in the state, which carries a significant inventory of cannabis products including pre-rolls, cannabis flower, oils and edibles was quoted as saying, “I think dependence can be an issue just like dependence can be an issue when it comes to ice cream. We will advocate using moderation, educate people about cannabis.”
While it is true that Massachusetts actually legalized recreational cannabis over two years ago, retail shops had been required to meet several very rigorous conditions that has been laid out by the state before being allowed to open for business. This initial limited rollout was intentional as local lawmakers were hoping to avoid the issue that other states have run into such as increases in impaired driving and spikes in certain crimes. Earlier in November, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to approve recreational cannabis, and last month Canada became the first major world economy to legalize adult recreational cannabis.
What are your thoughts on Massachusetts finally opening retail cannabis dispensaries? Do you think that it was a good idea for the mayor of Northampton to publicly purchase cannabis?