‘One of the best days of my life’: In wind and cold, Leicester marijuana shop continues to draw in crowds
LEICESTER — At 87 years old, Sue Annis wasn’t going to let a little thing like a long line scare her away from getting inside the pot shop.
She had traveled at least an hour, motivated by the need to ease the pain in her hip. So she bundled up, armed herself with her cane and a smile, and joined the crowds waiting outside Cultivate last week.
It was time to replenish her supply of CBD gummies. Her daughter had bought her a bottle the week before, and, mixed with Tylenol, she said, they had been a “lifesaver.”
What she didn’t know, as she stood in the biting wind, was that Cultivate doesn’t sell CBD gummies, even though many other local stores do. In fact, products with CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, are widely available in Massachusetts at health stores and even gas station counters. Her daughter later told her she got the gummies at a local liquor store, and she likely could have gotten more at a store in Medway.
Annis left Cultivate empty-handed. But her day trip was anything but a waste.
Everyone was incredibly considerate, she said, especially when a security officer and store employees insisted she stand with medical card customers at the front of the line. She resisted at first, pointing out that she didn’t have a medical card herself, but another customer with a medical card encouraged her to stay there.
Annis said she even heard some people clap.
“It was one of the best days of my life. I just had a wonderful time,” Annis said by phone Friday. She laughed and added, “I’m not your average 87-year-old.”
Annis was just one of hundreds who waited in line at Cultivate on Thursday, where crowds were smaller than opening week but consistent. Gone was the winding line of cars that wound through a nearby neighborhood and drew the ire of locals.
With more parking spots, customers found a trip to the shop was easier than the first week.
But the customers standing outside remained — at least 100 strong — through most of the morning and early afternoon. They waited for at least an hour in the cold but didn’t seem to mind.
Cheyenne Soja, 28, of Griswold, Conn., waited in line with her husband and a friend, and seized the opportunity to connect with others.
Soja walked through the line with wide eyes and audible excitement, introducing herself to strangers and hugging newfound friends. When she and her husband, Joe Soja, finally left Cultivate with their purchases, Joe walked down the line giving high-fives to other hopeful customers.
“I’ve been waiting since I was 18 for this,” Joe Soja said before going inside the shop. “They might call this recreational, but it’s not something just for recreation.”
Cheyenne Soja, who works as a waitress but was off on Thursday, said it makes her life better knowing that marijuana can help the lives of people she loves, like her husband and her mother, who has a medical marijuana card in Connecticut.
“It’s just kind of crazy how people put weed and other drugs together, and it’s not the same thing,” she said.
Misty Waskiewicz, 39, also said she is thankful for the medicinal effects of marijuana. A home health aide for her mother and brother in Worcester, Waskiewicz said she’s eager for her family to try marijuana products for their medical ailments. They’ve never had medical cards.
She and her friend, Chelsea Miller, go for walks every Thursday and decided to drive by Cultivate, one of the state’s two recreational marijuana shops.
“I need to be a part of history,” Waskiewicz said. “I did not think it would happen in my lifetime.”
Miller, 32, works overnight hours for an animal wholesale business, so she came with Waskiewicz after a full morning of work. She said they expected the long lines — even longer lines, in fact — and they were more than ready to wait.
“We wanted to be part of it. We didn’t want to wait until it died down,” Miller said.
Michelle Torres wanted to visit Cultivate earlier last week, but the line was too long. She drove from Haverhill to Leicester, and then turned right around.
When she returned to the shop on Thursday, her 27th birthday, she refused to let the line deter her.
“I thought it’d be really cool to buy it legally for the first time, especially for my birthday,” she said, standing alongside her sister and a friend.
The women didn’t even need to go inside the store to know they’ll be back, and they’re particularly looking forward to stores opening closer to Haverhill.
“This is just the beginning,” Torres said.