Hundreds lined up for hours in a cold rain in Massachusetts Tuesday morning to be among the first to do something that has never before been allowed in the northeast: Legally purchase recreational marijuana.
The state’s first commercial pot shops opened in Leicester and Northampton.
In the crowd waiting to get in to Northampton’s NETA dispensary, plenty of people from Connecticut.
“I’ve waited 38 years for this opportunity and I drove up from West Haven and I’m happy about it,” said West Haven resident Roger Crocker. “I’ve got lower back problems from years of working as a truck driver. It’s going to help that.”
It’s been two years since Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana. It took that long for regulators to figure out how to do it. Now, however, anyone old enough to drink can walk in to NETA and try 160 different kinds of products.
“Our customer service associates will make sure that you have all of the education and the information you need to be able to make a good decision about what products are right for you,” said Amanda Rositano, NETA’s Director of Compliance.
The first purchase made, as the clock struck 8 a.m. was by Northampton’s mayor. Some Connecticut politicians are considering following the Bay State’s lead. Governor-Elect Ned Lamont supports legalization. Some estimates have the state making as much as $100 million a year from pot taxes.
“With the battle between Massachusetts and Connecticut over tax revenue now with the casino here in Springfield, Connecticut’s got to step up and earn back some money somehow,” said Coventry resident Charles Lebel as he stood in line.
As for right now, legal weed can only be bought, and used, north of the border.
“We welcome folks from Connecticut to come one over and visit our store,” Rositano said. “Just know that cannabis purchased in Massachusetts has to stay in Massachusetts, can’t cross state lines.”
So no, you cannot take your purchases back to Connecticut. The second store to open Tuesday is called Cultivate in Leicester, Mass.
Web Extra: Connecticut officials enforcing marijuana laws