The lamp is lit

Cannabis commission gives go-ahead for retail pot sales starting Tuesday

MORE THAN TWO years after voters approved legal recreational marijuana sales and use, the doors of the first retail outlets east of the Mississippi will finally swing open on Tuesday just in time for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton were given the green light Friday by the Cannabis Control Commission to begin operations. The notice came with a caveat for the expected crowds and the rush to get a rush.

The New England Treatment Access website indicates the firm’s medical customers currently pay $15 for a gram, $50 for an eighth of an ounce, and $300 for an ounce. It’s unclear what the retail prices will be on Tuesday, but retail prices will also include a 20 percent tax.

“This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state,” commission chairman Steven J. Hoffman said. “As patrons look forward to visiting Massachusetts stores, we hope they will do their part by first familiarizing themselves with the law and understanding what is required of responsible consumers.”

Jim Borghesani, chief operating officer for the cannabis consulting firm Tudestr and the campaign spokesman for the 2016 referendum legalizing recreational marijuana, was thankful retail sales are beginning. “We can rightfully squawk about state delays and problematic local opposition, but the fact remains that we’re the first state east of the Mississippi to offer legal, tested cannabis to adult consumers in safe retail settings,” he said in a statement. “This is a historic distinction for Massachusetts.  Now we’re going to be at the forefront of the drive toward replacing lingering reefer-madness fears with a rational approach that benefits consumers and communities. ”

The two stores, both of which had been operating medical marijuana dispensaries, had been granted provisional licenses in the summer but had to go through extensive background checks and on-site inspections. Because testing labs were only recently certified to open and no cultivation or manufacturing operation has yet begun, the stores will be selling part of their medical inventory under a waiver from the Department of Public Health.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Those seeking medical marijuana specifically are still required to have a certification card from DPH and while the retail stores will be co-located with the medical marijuana dispensaries, those without patient cards cannot enter the medical side.

The cannabis commission also warned users that while marijuana is legal, there are still restrictions to adhere to, such as:

  • It is illegal to use marijuana while operating a vehicle.
  • Like alcohol, consumers cannot have an open container of marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of a car while on the road or at a place where the public has access.
  • Consuming marijuana or marijuana products in a public place is prohibited, as is smoking marijuana in any area where smoking tobacco is prohibited.
  • Per transaction, a retailer cannot sell more than one ounce of marijuana or five grams of marijuana concentrate – which are also the possession limits in Massachusetts – to an individual who is age 21 or older.
  • It is unlawful to carry marijuana or marijuana products across state lines or federal borders.
  • The impairment effects of edible marijuana may be delayed by two hours or more. Start low, go slow.