The wait is over.
On Tuesday morning, the first recreational marijuana stores in the Eastern United States will open in Massachusetts, kicking off an era of legal cannabis sales after more than a century of pot prohibition in the state.
The state Cannabis Control Commission made the historic announcement Friday, saying in a press release that it had issued “commence full operations” notices to Cultivate and New England Treatment Access, or NETA, which are marijuana retailers in Leicester and Northampton, respectively. The notices indicate that the firms, both of which operate as medical marijuana dispensaries, passed exhaustive inspections by state workers checking for compliance with a lengthy list of rules.
“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. “To get here, licensees underwent thorough background checks, passed multiple inspections, and had their products tested, all to ensure public health and safety as this new industry gets up and running. 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.”
NETA’s shop is expected to open Tuesday at 8 a.m. It was not immediately clear when Cultivate would open; the dispensary’s regular hours begin at 10 a.m.
“Cultivate is honored that we will be making history Tuesday by selling the first legal recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, New England and east of the Mississippi,” Sam Barber, the company’s founder, said in a statement. “We look forward to selling the highest quality cannabis to consumers and simultaneously be educating the public about how to responsibly enjoy our products. We have created dozens of jobs and look forward to creating revenue and contributing positively to [the] state and local region in which we operate.”
“We will be thrilled to be part of this milestone for Massachusetts when NETA Northampton opens its doors to adults 21-years and older offering legal, safe, regulated cannabis,” NETA’s director of government affairs, Norton Arbelaez, said in a statement. “NETA looks forward to providing legal marijuana to our customers, but we want our patients to know that we will never waver from our commitment to them and their needs.”
Massachusetts first made marijuana illegal in 1911 — and it stayed that way until 2016, when 1.8 million voters said “yes” to a ballot measure legalizing the drug for adults older than 21 and establishing a system of regulated sales.
In the end, it took lawmakers and regulators more than two years to…