Long lines greet cannabis customers on first Saturday of legal recreational sales
Marijuana remained a lucrative cash crop on Small Business Saturday, as customers endured long waits at the two Massachusetts dispensaries authorized to sell recreational cannabis on the first weekend the stores could legally peddle the product.
Outside Cultivate, a Leicester pot shop, passing drivers commented on the line of cars, which one Twitter user estimated at roughly 200 vehicles about 9:45 a.m. Just before 11:30 a.m., another user tweeted that police were directing traffic and there was a “line out the door.”
Just drove by Cultivate, Massachusetts 1st recreational dispensary. 200 car line, parking lot full, police detail directing traffic & it doesn't even open til 10am.... Nuts— Pete Doom (@petedoom) November 24, 2018
Just drove by the new recreational dispensary in Leicester - road closed down, cops directing traffic, line out the door, and a shuttle bus bringing people from the huge parking lot of a nearby nursery— Andy (@ElRioDorito) November 24, 2018
Cultivate had sufficient inventory to meet Saturday’s demand, but its staff has sometimes had to cut off the line to prevent it from growing too long for customers to be served before closing time, according to Francy Wade, a spokeswoman for the company.
That happened early Saturday afternoon, Wade said, when Cultivate’s parking lot reached capacity.
“Small business Saturday certainly was booming for us today at Cultivate,” the dispensary’s founder and chief executive, Sam Barber, said in a statement. “Our lines continue to be just as steady as they were the first three days of business. Our expectations have been completely surpassed.”
About 35 miles away, roughly 2,000 customers have walked through the doors of the state’s other legal cannabis store, Northampton’s New England Treatment Access, each business day since NETA and Cultivate began legally selling recreational marijuana on Tuesday, according to Norton Arbelaez, NETA’s director of government affairs.
“We continue to be busy. We’re still seeing an incredible amount of interest,” Arbelaez said Saturday afternoon, adding that the store was on track to see another 2,000 customers before closing time.
Arbelaez said NETA hasn’t experienced significant issues with traffic or long lines of cars because it has sufficient spaces for on-site parking and has worked with neighbors and local police to provide for overflow vehicles.
Still, the average wait at the store was about 90 minutes, and lines outside have started forming early — on Saturday, customers began queueing about 6:30 a.m., according to NETA.
Cambridge resident Shannon Megan, 33, waited about three hours to shop at NETA, where she picked up 1/8th flower of the Gorilla Glue strain, two pre-rolled joints, and a vaping pen, she said.
“I didn’t mind because they told us in line that we were definitely guaranteed to get in,” Megan said in a phone interview from the store.
She said the purchase was “worth the wait” because cannabis helped her stop using opiates and aids in calming the anxiety and post-traumatic stress that caused her to turn to the more addictive drugs. Being able to buy marijuana legally, she said, is life-changing.
“It’s like Christmas morning to me,” Megan said. “It’s just a relief knowing that the stigma’s going to be lowered, because it’s not a bad thing. . . . I just wish some people would realize that.”