Worcesters Good Chemistry set to start selling recreational weed, pending inspection

Worcester\s Good Chemistry set to start selling recreational weed, pending inspection
Massachusetts mayor opts for marijuana-infused chocolate bar as legal weed sales begin
On Tuesday, the first day of legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts, consumers spent a total of $440,011 at two stores on more than 10,700 individual cannabis products, according to data released by the state Cannabis Control Commission Wednesday afternoon.

The products, purchased at the first two stores to open, ranged from marijuana flower to pot concentrates to pre-rolled joints to edibles infused with THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.

The state will take a 17 percent cut — through a combination of the regular 6.25 percent sales tax and a 10.75 percent excise tax on marijuana — which for the first day of sales amounts to about $74,800.

One thing is clear to me: Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken, benefiting neither the elderly man suffering from cancer whom marijuana may help nor the young woman prone to substance use disorder whom it may harm, he wrote. The patchwork of inconsistent state laws compounds the dysfunction.

The communities of Leicester and Northampton, where the first two marijuana shops in the state opened Tuesday, each impose a 3 percent local tax on cannabis sales within their borders. The commission declined to provide more detailed data showing the revenue at each shop, so it was not immediately clear how much each municipality earned Tuesday.

New England Treatment Access, or NETA, the store in Northampton, previously said it had served about 2,000 customers Tuesday, while Cultivate in Leicester said about half that number showed up. Both stores are closed on Thanksgiving but will reopen Friday.

Kennedy, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over healthcare, represents a state that recently voted to legalize marijuana. Currently the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana in the same category as other drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

“We are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response during the first two days of sales,” said Sam Barber, the president of Cultivate. “This is an enormously gratifying moment for the whole Cultivate team to finally get to sell the products we have obsessed over creating for the past two years.”

Given the FDAs recent approval of prescriptions derived from marijuana, other countries recognition of its legitimate medicinal uses, and lower rates of addiction than alcohol or nicotine, this classification is hard to justify, Kennedy wrote.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Customers were lined up at Cultivate in Leicester on the store’s first day Tuesday.

Banks fear a crackdown on transactions with marijuana suppliers and dispensaries because they are still illegal under federal law, leaving the state-law-abiding businesses no choice but to operate with cash-only transactions, Kennedy said.

Norton Arbelaez, NETA’s director of government affairs, said Tuesday was a “very, very successful first day” — in terms of both sales totals and the smooth functioning of various software systems and company protocols.

Ten states that have legalized recreational marijuana use and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, according to Business Insider. Those conflicts with federal law have created a swath of problems, Kennedy wrote.

“There was a little bit of magic in the air yesterday,” he said. “We still have lines today, but we’re moving people through about 20 percent faster. It’s really pleasing to see all the preparations we’ve done over the past two years come to fruition.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., opposed the states effort to pass medical marijuana, saying it would be harmful to the social fabric of Oklahoma, according to a report in the Tulsa World.

Arbelaez added that he expects high demand to continue, as consumers from Massachusetts and other nearby states flock to his shop.

“This is obviously very important and historic for Massachusetts, but there are also huge regional implications, given the population density of New England and the Eastern Seaboard,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of IDs from Connecticut, New York, Vermont, even Pennsylvania. So I think it will continue to be busy.”

Kennedy, D-Mass., wrote in a STAT op-ed states choices to legalize the drug, which remains prohibited at the federal level, have spurred an untenable system.

The stores opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday, more than two years after voters approved a ballot measure legalizing the drug and establishing a system of regulated sales. Massachusetts is the first state east of the Mississippi River to launch a regulated recreational pot market.

Hundreds of customers gathered in long lines at both shops Tuesday and Wednesday, waiting more than three hours in some cases for the chance to be among the first to buy cannabis legally. NETA and Cultivate each said it had sold out of certain products, but still had inventory remaining as of Wednesday afternoon.

NETA co-founder Arnon Vered sells Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, right, the first legal recreational sale of marijuana, an edible marijuana candy bar, at the NETA facility on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in Northampton, Mass. (Carol Lollis/The Daily Hampshire Gazette via AP)

A Massachusetts mayor became one of the first people in the state to buy legal marijuana Tuesday, purchasing a weed-infused chocolate bar.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said he didn’t plan on consuming the marijuana product but instead wanted to memorialize it to commemorate the moment.

“I am actually going to probably preserve it and display it…because it is historically significant,” he told CBS News as New England Treatment Access made its first sale.

By becoming the first to purchase recreational marijuana, Narkewicz hopes to end the stigma around the drug.

“There's obviously been a lot of stigma around marijuana in this country,” Narkewicz told NBC Boston. “Massachusetts has moved forward on it, in terms of first voting on it to decriminalize, then voting to legalize medical and now recreational.”

The first pot shops opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Northampton and Leicester. Both stores were already operating as medical marijuana dispensaries and were the first to be cleared by the state to sell recreational pot to adults 21 and older.

Stephen Mandile, a disabled Iraq War veteran and a medical marijuana advocate, was chosen to be the first to buy recreational pot at Cultivate in Leicester, according to the Boston Globe.

Massachusetts was the seventh state to open recreational marijuana shops, but the first state to open them east of the Mississippi River.

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