On November 20th, 2018, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts witnessed a historic moment: the first legal sale of recreational cannabis. In spite of this incredible moment, I didn’t step into one of the two facilities currently serving the public until December 1st. You might be asking why it took me thirteen days before venturing into one of these facilities. The simple answer: I didn’t want to wait in a line comprised of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals awaiting their first legal, recreational cannabis purchase.

Nearly two weeks after the facility opened its doors to the general public on December 1st, I drove by the Leicester, MA, dispensary, Cultivate. My eyes widened with shock as I saw the swarm of people waiting in line. After seeing this, I was adamant: “I’m not going to wait in that line.” I thought as I drove by the facility, frustrated that, as a resident of Massachusetts who lives a stone’s throw away from a dispensary, why was I unable to even get near the door?

Later that evening, I had accepted the facts: if I wanted to make a legal cannabis purchase, I’d have no choice but to wait in that line. Once again, I drove to Cultivate, only to have my hopes dashed by a sign on the roadside outside the dispensary, which read: Recreational Sales Closed for The Day.

Most people would have taken that roadside sign as an omen—December 1st just wasn’t the day. I, on the other hand, had had enough waiting. With two of my closest friends, we drove to NETA Northampton—Massachusetts’ only other recreational cannabis dispensary currently in operation. After an hourlong ride, we finally arrived only to see that, like Cultivate, this dispensary also boasted a mile-long line. The plus side: recreational sales were still open and would continue until 10 P.M.

We walked to the back of the line and stood in the bitter New England cold for three hours before finally entering the facility. During those three hours of waiting, I spoke with many individuals who, like myself, were beyond excited to make their first legal cannabis purchase. These people were of all ages and nationalities; the line was a veritable melting pot which showcased the array of individuals who wanted to be legal, recreational cannabis consumers.

The demographic diversity—both in nationality and age—of the crowded line held little surprise for me. What did surprise me was the locations these individuals called home. There was a woman in her 60s who’d driven, by herself, all the way from Pennsylvania, wearing nothing more than sweatpants and a hoodie; another woman in her 40s had made the pilgrimage from Massachusetts’ northern neighboring state, Vermont; a husband and wife who shivered in the bitter elements (and who also gave me a half-dozen McDonald’s chicken nuggets two hours or so into our wait) had driven from hustling, bustling Manhattan; another couple, I’d guess to be in their mid-60s, came from New York. Like my friends and me, they had come to get their first legal taste of the cannabis industry. The difference between them and my friends and me? They had driven between four and six hours to stand in that mile-long line.

Eventually, my friends—both the ones I had gone to the dispensary with and the new ones I’d made while waiting in line—and I walked through the dispensary doors. We purchased our wares and were on our way back home to enjoy the crop less than fifteen minutes after we’d walked through the door. After the ride home, we got our first taste of legal, recreational cannabis. The product was just as incredible as we had hoped, but I was left with a myriad of thoughts regarding this experience. Paramount among my thoughts was this: Why, if so many individuals are cannabis users, has the federal government not legalized cannabis for the whole of the nation? This is a question that citizens across the country are asking themselves, and one which we all hope will soon be answered. Until then, people will continue to travel far and wide to experience what may be the first legal cannabis purchase they’ve made in their lives. How does that impact me, a resident of Massachusetts interested in exercising my legal right to purchase cannabis? Until more dispensaries open their doors, I fear the lines outside the facilities will be far from empty. It will likely be another three-hour wait in line before I can purchase cannabis from a dispensary again. But despite the inconvenience to Massachusetts residents, I think this is a great problem to have. The excitement among all states regarding the prospect of legal cannabis is clear. You can see it for yourself; all you have to do is visit a dispensary and talk to the people waiting in line.

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.