LEICEISTER (CBS/AP) — The first two recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts will open Tuesday morning in Leicester and Northampton.
The Cannabis Control Commission, the state’s marijuana regulatory agency, authorized them on Friday to begin operations next week, more than two years after voters approved the legalized use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and older.
The two stores have to wait three days before opening so they can coordinate with local officials and law enforcement. The openings are expected to draw big crowds, based on the experiences of other legal U.S. states and Canada when they first launched recreational sales.
The Northampton store, operated by New England Treatment Access, said it would open for recreational sales at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Cultivate Holdings, which operates the Leicester store, said its doors would also open at 8 a.m. the same day.
Both shops currently operate as medical marijuana dispensaries and have pledged to continue serving their registered patients. Each store had to undergo background checks, pass multiple inspections and have their marijuana products independently tested.
Recreational marijuana is currently sold in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California and Nevada. Maine voters also approved a legalization question in 2016, but stores in that state are not expected to open until next year at the earliest.
The first Massachusetts stores are in the central and western part of the state, but there are currently no stores approved to open in the greater Boston area. That means that, for now, more than half of the state’s population will not have easy access to recreational marijuana.
Many cities and towns in Massachusetts have resisted cannabis businesses, with some imposing outright bans and others making it difficult through zoning restrictions or other conditions.
Before you go buy marijuana in Leicester or Northampton you’ll need to plan ahead. The stores will accept cash. At Cultivate, CEO Sam Barber said they will not accept credit cards but their debit card terminals will be online around noon Tuesday. A spokesman for the Northampton store says it will accept some debit and credit cards with four-digit pins.
In addition to long lines, once you get to the door, you’ll need a legal ID showing you are 21 or older to get inside.
Massachusetts law allows retailers to sell a customer up to one ounce. State regulations restrict sales to no more than one ounce of flower or five grams of concentrate.
Recreational marijuana sales are subject to Massachusetts’ 6.25 percent sales tax, along with a 10.75 percent state excise tax and a 3 percent local tax. That adds up a 20 percent tax paid by the consumer at the point of purchase. Medical marijuana remains untaxed.
And don’t forget, you can’t smoke marijuana in public. If you’re caught it’s a $100 fine.
It’s also illegal to smoke pot and drive.
“It is against the law to publicly consume marijuana and that includes consuming it in your car when you’re driving. And if the police see you in Leicester I can guarantee you you’re going to be stopped and you’re going to have to face the music on that,” Leicester Police Chief James Hurley told WBZ-TV.
Hurley said they’re expecting up to a thousand people at Cultivate Tuesday. To control traffic, shuttle buses will transport customers from a satellite parking lot.
For more information on marijuana in Massachusetts, visit the state’s website.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)