The state of Massachusetts opened its first two legal marijuana shops on Tuesday in Leicester and Northampton.
The store openings came two years after voters approved the legalization of the drug for recreational use for adults 21 and older. The delay was caused by the Cannabis Control Commission, the state's regulatory board, which worked to make the rollout as safe as possible, according to WBZ-TV.
Two more stores in the state were expected to receive final licensing on Tuesday.
Iraq veteran becomes the first customer in Leicester
In Leicester, Stephen Mandile, an Iraq veteran of the Army National Guard, was the Cultivate's first customer, according to WBZ.
He told the station that he uses medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain.
“It’s an honor, something amazing. I probably dreamed about it back in high school that this day would happen sometime,” Mandile said. “I’ll be smoking some history later on today.”
Mandile suffered a serious accident 10 years ago, which left him in pain and "feeling like the shell of a person I was," he told WBZ.
“There were opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills … all of which led me to a suicide attempt,” he explained.
He still has daily physical pain and his mind races but that cannabis helps him enjoy his life with his wife, two daughters and his service dog.
“When I consume cannabis it’s like putting on headphones and I can hear one song I can focus and I can finish a thought,” he said. "For me, this was definitely a lifesaving substance."
City mayor is the first customer at Northampton store
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz was the New England Treatment Access shop's first customer, WBZ reported.
“I do think that as a longtime supporter both of legalization of medical marijuana and as a supporter of adult-use marijuana, I think it sends an important message that I’d be the first person to make that purchase,” Narkewicz said during a news conference on Monday.
He bought a cannabis-infused chocolate bar that he said he plans to keep as a historical artifact of the city.
The Northampton store was already operating as a medical marijuana dispensary prior to Tuesday's recreational sales opening.