“It’s kind of weird, standing in line for weed,” said Coleman, noting his usual place of purchase is from a car or someone’s apartment. “Usually it’s an in and out process, but not today.”
A little more than an hour away in Northampton, customers began lining up outside New England Treatment Access about 5:30. The store, which, like Cultivate, has been operating as a medical marijuana dispensary for several years, made its first official sale to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who bought a $20 candy bar, which he planned on saving, not eating. The purchase at 7:45, 15 minutes before regular customers came in, made Narkewicz the first person on the East Coast to buy legal marijuana. By midafternoon, more than 1,000 people had bought marijuana at New England Treatment Access, according to a spokeswoman.
In Leicester, a small town once famed for making many of the hand cards used in the country for straightening fibers spinning threads and weaving cloth in 18th century America, Cultivate sits in a nondescript warehouse-like building back off Route 9. Also known as Main Street, it is a commercial stretch that has a Walmart, a couple donut shops, a closed drive-in, a nursery and other commercial enterprises. Police Chief Jim Hurley said while Black Friday at Walmart draws several thousand people each year, Cultivate’s first day of recreational marijuana sales rivaled the holiday shopping frenzy but it wasn’t contained to a parking lot outside a superstore, but rather in closed parking areas with people walking along the busy road to get to the store.
Hundreds came from all around the region and waited for hours in the sleet and rain for a chance to buy legal marijuana at Cultivate in Leicester.
“This is far more than we expected,” said Hurley, who put on two details and was calling out for more while he had his four-person shift rotating through to maintain order. “This is cannabis tourism. We had more than 1,000 cars just going by taking pictures by 10 [a.m.] There’s several hundred [customers] in line, about a two or three hour wait. Everybody’s been very peaceful. I think if we come back here next week, it will be like a normal operation, it will be like a liquor store.”