Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz was at the counter of the New England Treatment Access marijuana dispensary promptly at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Opposite him stood dozens of employees anxiously counting down to one of the two first legal recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts — and the eastern United States.
When the moment came, there was silence as cash and a white paper bag holding a 50 milligram cannabis-infused chocolate bar were exchanged.
A pause for a picture, then applause.
“Can I get a receipt for that?” Narkewicz, 52, said to laughter.
The sale, along with another made by Iraq War veteran and medical marijuana advocate Stephen Mandile at Cultivate, a marijuana dispensary in Leicester, kicked off a day and an era years in the making and officially signaled the end of decades-long prohibition in the commonwealth.
“I think it sends a symbolic message that an elected official is giving credibility to this industry that for years … marijuana, cannabis has been stigmatized and so now we’re bringing it out of the shadows,” said Narkewicz, an Air Force veteran that was invited to be the dispensary’s first customer.
— David Narkewicz (@MayorNarkewicz) November 20, 2018
Mandile, 41, uses marijuana to treat PTSD, chronic pain, and a brain injury, The Boston Globe reports. Using it helped him end a painkiller addiction, and his advocacy and military service were reasons Cultivate chose him to be its first customer, according to the newspaper.
Amid applause Tuesday, Mandile bought one eighth of an ounce of marijuana and a pre-rolled joint.
“It’s an honor. It’s something amazing,” Mandile told WCVB. “I probably dreamed about it back in high school that this day would happen sometime. But to actually be doing it today is amazing and to have veterans recognized, not just myself, but to be able to bring other veterans with me and have it focused around that is super special to me.”
Narkewicz, who confirmed his purchase was a personal and not a professional expense, said he plans on framing his chocolate bar, a “historic artifact,” and will probably, eventually donate it to the Historic Northampton museum.
But Mandile indicated he plans on lighting up soon.
“I’ll save the pre-roll, and I’ll be smoking some history later on today,” he said.