NORTHAMPTON (CBS) – The mayor of Northampton will be first in line at his city’s pot shop Tuesday when legal recreational marijuana sales begin in Massachusetts.
Mayor David Narkewicz regularly attends ribbon cuttings and the opening of new businesses in the community, but this will be different. New England Treatment Access on Conz Street and a Leicester dispensary are set to be the nation’s first two places to buy legal recreational marijuana east of Colorado.
A veteran will be the first in line at Cultivate in Leicester on Tuesday.
“I do think that as a longtime supporter both of legalization of medical marijuana and as a supporter of adult-use marijuana, I think it sends an important message that I’d be the first person to make that purchase,” Narkewicz said at a Monday press conference.
Narkewicz served in the U.S. Air Force and says access to marijuana is especially important for veterans.
“There’s obviously been a lot of stigma around marijuana in this country,” he said. “My fellow veterans who need access to this. . . this has been life-changing for them.”
The mayor plans to buy a chocolate bar on Tuesday, but says it will only be a “symbolic purchase.”
“Obviously it will be a historic artifact of tomorrow so I won’t be consuming it,” he said.
Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper is anticipating a large crowd when NETA opens at 8 a.m. and officers are prepared to handle the traffic influx.
“Our biggest concern is the safety of everyone in the area,” she said. “We’re ready for the busy-ness.”
The shop already operates as a medical marijuana dispensary, and is taking steps to make sure patients aren’t impacted by the long lines that are to come.
NETA director of operational compliance Amanda Rositano said the business has been fielding hundreds of calls ahead of the big day. It’s been more than two years since Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, and Tuesday will make history.
“This is really about acknowledging there is now a place for cannabis in our society, and that place is no longer in the shadows,” she said.
A spokesman for the Northampton store says it will accept some debit and credit cards with four-digit pins. Only those 21 years or older are allowed inside and a legal ID is required.