LEICESTER (CBS/AP) — People lined up in the rain Tuesday morning to be among the first customers at the first two legal pot shops in Massachusetts, more than two years after voters approved of recreational marijuana for adults.
The state’s first commercial pot shops opened at 8 a.m. in Leicester and Northampton – selling strains of the part of the plant that can be smoked, pre-rolled joints and edibles such as brownies and chocolate bars.
The first customer at the Leicester store was Stephen Mandile, an Iraq War veteran who has been using medical marijuana to treat his post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury and chronic pain. Leicester’s police chief also gave him an American flag for his service.
“It’s an honor, something amazing. I probably dreamed about it back in high school that this day would happen sometime,” Mandile said, noting that he was surprised by the chief’s gesture. “I’ll be smoking some history later on today.”
Customers were shuttled to Cultivate, the Leicester store, from a remote parking lot about a mile away as police kept a visible but low-key presence outside. Customers perused offerings kept behind counters and under glass.
Kenny Boisvert, a 33-year-old Blackstone resident, was pleasantly surprised by his purchasing experience.
“It’s a very nice place. It’s way more than I expected,” he said as he waited to pick up the flower and edibles he had bought.
At New England Treatment Access in Northampton, Mayor David Narkewicz made the first purchase, buying a cannabis-infused chocolate bar. Narkewicz said he would keep it as an artifact of the city’s history.
Cultivate said they had 1,000 customers on their first day.
There were no immediate reports of product shortages at the stores, something that has plagued the initial start of recreational pot sales in some other states. Massachusetts’ top marijuana regulator said the crowds appeared orderly and praised operators for doing a thorough job of preparing for the first sales.
“It’s only two stores but it represents, I think, a formidable accomplishment,” said Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, noting the panel started meeting only 14 months ago.
Some legalization advocates have been critical of the slow pace of regulation and licensing by the state, while others have faulted cities and towns for throwing up roadblocks to marijuana businesses, or in some cases banning them altogether.
The commission issued final licenses Tuesday to two more retail stores, in Salem and Easthampton, which could open in the coming weeks. But as yet there are no pot shops in the greater Boston area, where more than half the state’s population resides.
WBZ-TV’s Michelle Fisher reports from Northampton
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)