Today, two Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries will open their doors and begin selling adult-use cannabis. Last Friday, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission signed off on a dispensary in Northampton and another in Leicester, making them the first recreational marijuana retailers on the eastern seaboard.
It's been more than two years since the residents of Massachusetts voted to approve recreational cannabis. Legislators and regulators have been working through several drafts of regulations and attempting to build a stable infrastructure to support the industry before sales were allowed.
The original start date of recreational sales was planned for July 1st, 2018 but that was pushed yet again. Fortunately, things are finally progressing and the Cannabis Control Commission has issued commence operations notices to the first two dispensaries in Massachusetts. Once Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries receive their commence operations notice they must wait three days before beginning sales so local authorities have time to prepare.
Chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, Steven Hoffman, noted that, "This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state. 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."
The two Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries that open today, Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton, expect to see large turnouts. The spokesperson for New England Treatment Access, Norton Albaraez, says that dispensary, "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.”
They will continue to service medical marijuana patients in addition to adult-use customers and have sectioned off a separate part of the storefront for patients to avoid long lines. Anticipating a high volume of customers on opening day, both stores have been coordinating with local officials about the best way to handle traffic, parking, and public safety to ensure that the first day of recreational sales is a success.
More Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries are expected to be licensed in the coming weeks and the Cannabis Control Commission will likely issue several commence operations notices. There has however been some pushback from many local townships seeking to ban or limit recreational marijuana retailers with zoning restrictions.