by JESSICA A. BOTELHO, NBC 10 NEWS
The first recreational marijuana shops in Massachusetts will be opening next week, nearly two years after voters authorized legal consumption.
At 4:20 Friday afternoon, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission gave the final approval for two dispensaries to begin retail sales on Tuesday.
“This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state,” Steven J. Hoffman, who is the chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, said in a press release Friday. “To get here, licensees underwent thorough background checks, passed multiple inspections, and had their products tested, all to ensure public health and safety as this new industry gets up and running. As patrons look forward to visiting Massachusetts stores, we hope they will do their part by first familiarizing themselves with the law and understanding what is required of responsible consumers.”
Hoffman said the Commission has authorized Cultivate Holdings, LLC, at 1764 Main St. in Leicester, and New England Treatment Access, LLC, at 118 Conz St. in Northampton, to start selling marijuana and marijuana products in three calendar days.
“We will be thrilled to be part of this milestone for Massachusetts when NETA Northampton opens its doors to adults 21-years and older offering legal, safe, regulated cannabis,” NETA Director of Government Affairs Norton Arbelaez said. “NETA looks forward to providing legal marijuana to our customers, but we want our patients to know that we will never waver from our commitment to them and their needs.”
While the shop in Leicester is less than 50 miles from downtown Providence, the one in Northampton is north of Springfield off Interstate 91.
The stores will be the first commercial pot shops in the eastern United States. Retail sales were originally slated to begin July 1 but regulatory approvals were delayed.
Northeast Alternatives, which is located in Fall River just over the Tiverton line, is expected to soon join them. It is among a group of about a dozen other dispensaries in the next-up phase of approvals for recreational sales — and the only one in Bristol County.
“I think it’s historic and I think that people are excited for this to happen,” said owner Chris Harkins, noting that his store has been open as a medical marijuana dispensary since June. “We’re ready. They’ve inspected us, so we expect at one of their next meetings we’ll get our final approval.”
Meanwhile, the Commission also reminded consumers that is unlawful to carry marijuana or marijuana products across state lines or federal borders.
To buy up to an ounce of retail cannabis in Massachusetts, you have to be 21 years old. You can’t use it in public or in a car.
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(NBC 10’s Brian Crandall contributed to this report.)
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