November 16, 2018

Mass. recreational marijuana sales to start Tuesday in Leicester

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Cultivate in Leicester will open Tuesday as one of the state's first two recreational marijuana retail stores.

Recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts can begin on Tuesday, and Leicester-based Cultivate Holdings will be one of two adult-use retail locations open for business east of the Mississippi River.

The state Cannabis Control Commission announced Friday it had issued notices to Cultivate and New England Treatment Access to begin selling marijuana and other cannabis products in three calendar days.

The three-day delay allows retailers to coordinate opening-day logistics with their host communities, police, colleagues and other stakeholders.

Cultivate grows and processes its product on site, while NETA grows and processes products in Franklin. NETA's Northampton medical marijuana dispensary will open for adult-use sales simultaneously to Cultivate.

"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, founder and CEO of Cultivate, said in a statement Friday. "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 state and local region in which we operate."

Once sales begin, customers 21 or older will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or up to five grams of marijuana concentrate at a time -- amounts equal to the state's legal possession limits. It is unclear whether NETA or Cultivate will impose their own purchase limits amid the crush of shoppers expected to surge to the shops.

Massachusetts voters legalized the possession and use of cannabis in November 2016 with sales slated to begin at the start of 2018, but that date was pushed back by the Legislature to July 1.

Still, it took another five months for the long-anticipated rollout of an industry expected to bring in $2 billion annually in the state.

"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 Hoffman said in the CCC's announcement. "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."

Cultivate in July became the first cannabis company to land a provisional retail license from the CCC. Cultivate, along with NETA, were granted final licenses from the CCC last month.

Testing laboratories — a critical piece of the industry's rollout — were only allowed to start testing products last week.

Information from the State House News Service was used in this report.

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