Recreational marijuana stores to open in Massachusetts

Massachusetts' first recreational marijuana stores were approved Friday to begin selling to customers next week, months after the state had intended to begin retail sales.

ABC News reports that two stores selling recreational marijuana will open in Northampton and Leicester beginning Tuesday morning following the three-day waiting period mandated by the state's Cannabis Control Commission.

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Massachusetts advocates had previously hoped to see recreational sales begin in July, two years since the 2016 vote to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state was passed.

"This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state," Steven Hoffman, chair of the CCC, told ABC in a statement.

"To get here, licensees underwent thorough background checks, passed multiple inspections and had their products tested, all to ensure public health and safety as this new industry gets up and running," he added.

With Tuesday's openings of the two locations, Massachusetts will become the seventh state in the U.S. and the only state in the eastern U.S. to allow marijuana to be sold in retail settings. Maine, which has also voted to legalize recreational marijuana, is set to open retail stores in 2019 at the earliest.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for a group behind the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, told ABC that his group was not concerned with the slow pace of legalization efforts following the 2016 vote.

"We can rightfully squawk about state delays and problematic local opposition, but the fact remains that we're the first state east of the Mississippi to offer legal, tested cannabis to adult consumers in safe retail settings," he said.