I visited a recreational dispensary in Massachusetts. The crowds are real.

I visited a recreational dispensary in Massachusetts. The crowds are real.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana. And on November 20, the first two recreational dispensaries finally opened. (State officials have taken their time approving facilities that grow, cultivate and sell cannabis.)

I visited Cultivate, a recreational dispensary in Leicester, MA. It’s one of the two dispensaries to open their doors in the state in November. This took a ton of hard work, as Brand Ambassador Evan Pierce told me. Staff has been working non-stop for nine months to prepare the facility, he said. (Cultivate previously served only medical marijuana patients. They had to meet new requirements, he explained, to receive state approval to begin recreational sales.) Pierce believes the careful roll-out by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has helped both consumers and regulators. It has ensured quality control, he explains. It’s also important to ensure dispensary staff does not sell any customer more than the legal limit for recreational pot sales.

Opening day was cold and rainy, Pierce recalls. The staff was prepared for the crowds. Cultivate provides an off-site parking lot, with shuttle busses that drive back and forth constantly, and a warming tent. The first week they served about 1500 customers a day, Pierce says, and now they regularly serve about 1000 per day. The lines inside are orderly and people have the choice to talk to a brand ambassador to get a recommendation of dosage or strain, if they need assistance. There is a daily menu selection which helps people know what choices they have. Pierce tells me that they have a Cannabis geneticist on staff that makes the strains for the facility and MCR Labs does their testing and certification with the state of MA.

Recreational marijuana is only available to customers over the age of 21. The legal limit for adult-use customers is one ounce of flower, or five grams of concentrate, in a single purchase. The product is behind glass cabinetry and you must show your ID before buying. People chatted together or stood quietly in line, waiting to buy their product and catch the short shuttle bus ride back to the parking lot. The other facility that opened on the same day as Cultivate, I.N.S.A. Is in Northampton and a third, Alternative Therapies Group opened on December 15 in Salem. The fourth and fifth shops were cleared to open on Friday, December 21, in Easthampton and Wareham.

It’s an exciting time in Massachusetts, and certainly an exciting time at Cultivate.

“It’s pretty exciting to be helping so many people,” Pierce concludes.