First recreational cannabis shop to open in greater Boston area

New England Treatment Access Brookline location will open on March 23 as the first dispensary to offer non-medicinal cannabis in the greater Boston area.

Director of Compliance for NETA Amanda Rositano said the company received their final license for recreational retail from the Cannabis Control Commission in early March. NETA opened in Brookline in November 2016 for medicinal use for adults 21 and over.

The shop, at 160 Washington St. in Brookline, is a 20-minute drive from the college and located off of the E green line Riverway stop.

Associate Director of the Center for Health and Wellness Laura Owen said in an interview that she does not see the opening of the new shop causing increased cannabis use on campus.

“[The shop] is close geographically, but it’s still 21 and up to buy, so most of our students are not able to purchase [cannabis],” Owen said. “We treat [cannabis] basically like alcohol as far as policy and health education go. We want people to be safe and responsible with substances. We want people to be safe doing it.”

Owen said if students come into the center complaining of a headache or stomach ache, they ask students about substance use and how that might be affecting their overall health.

Students who are over the age of 21 are also not permitted to possess marijuana on campus.

Assistant Director of Community Standards Melissa Woolsey said in an interview that the shop’s opening will not change the college’s cannabis use policy which bans its use and possession on campus as the college follows federal guidelines.

“The pros of this shop opening up is that it promotes safe use and students know what is in the cannabis they are using if they still choose to consume,” Woolsey said. “The cons can often include students [consuming] too much without consulting the dispensary, and getting themselves in uncomfortable situations.”  

Rositano said in a phone interview that she realizes Boston is a big college city, and the shop will continue to have a strict policy when it comes to underage buying. Customers must be 21 and older to enter the shop and are required to present a government-issued identification which employees scan before a purchase.

Rositano said she expects opening day to be busy, and urges those attending to utilize public transit and place an order online beforehand.

NETA started selling cannabis products recreationally in Northampton, in November 2018.

The shop sells a variety of different products, including marijuana flower, edibles, concentrates, and vaporizers, Rositano said. All of the products sold at the shop come from a cultivation facility in Franklin.

NETA’s website states that the company aims to improve the quality of patients’ lives by providing personalized care and marijuana products from Massachusetts.

Freshman Hopkington, Massachusetts native Brianna Maloney said in an interview that she assumed more recreational cannabis shops would open after the state legalized the substance in 2016.

“I feel like it doesn’t hurt to have a shop in Boston,” she said. “People are going to get [cannabis] one way or another, so this is just a safer way to do it.”

Rositano said the company earned a good reputation in the Brookline community as responsible neighbors for the past three years.

“Since we are now fully retail, we will continue to extend our mission as we go forward,” Rositano said. “Patients will always remain our top priority and we will continue to operate in the town in a positive way.”

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