Smoke and Mirrors: Massachusetts’ Recreational Cannabis Industry Navigates Tricky Regulatory Terrain

It took two years, numerous delays, and myriad revisions to the written law, but on November 20, Massachusetts made history as the first state east of the Mississippi River where adults can legally purchase marijuana for recreational use.

The grand opening of the state’s first two marijuana retailers—New England Treatment Access (NETA), in the cozy western city of Northampton, and Cultivate, in the small central town of Leicester—were an instant hit, for better and worse. Thousands of people from all over the Northeast flocked to the stores in the first few weeks, causing hours-long queues for customers as well as traffic and congestion issues that perturbed local residents. The retailers, overwhelmed by the demand, were forced to ration their product, be it “flower” (the recognizable green bud most popularly smoked by users), vape-able cannabis concentrate oils, or ingestible “edibles” that take the form of gummies, baked goods, and more.

But opening kinks

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