The Latest: Kennedy says feds should legalize, regulate pot

Robert Golembeski, left, of Chepachet R.I., compares his driver license with that of another customer as they wait outside the Cultivate cannabis dispensary to purchase recreational marijuana on the first day of legal sales, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in Leicester, Mass. Cultivate is one of the first two shops permitted to sell recreational marijuana in the eastern United States, opening more than two years after Massachusetts voters approved it in 2016. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

LEICESTER, Mass. (AP) — The Latest on the opening of the first commercial marijuana stores on the U.S. East Coast (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy says he has changed his perspective on marijuana and is now calling on the federal government to legalize and regulate the drug.

In an opinion piece published the day the first two pot shops opened in his state, the Massachusetts Democrat called on Tuesday called for marijuana to be removed from the list of drugs covered by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Kennedy writes that he has long been skeptical of marijuana legalization because of concerns the drug can lead to addiction, particularly among adolescents.

Writing in STAT, a Boston-based health and medical publication, Kennedy says he has also come to appreciate the benefits of legalization and believes federal prohibition has done little to protect public health and safety.


2:15 p.m.

Massachusetts’ top marijuana regulator is calling the opening of the state’s first recreational pot shops a “major milestone.”

Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman noted Tuesday there were long lines outside the stores in Leicester (LEH’-stuhr) and Northampton, but that the crowds appeared “orderly.” He praised the operators of the pot shops for having done a thorough job of planning.

There were no immediate reports of supply shortages at either store, which offered customers products ranging from pre-rolled joints to cannabis-infused chocolate bars.

The stores are the first in the eastern United States. Pot is sold legally in six western states.

The commission voted Tuesday to issue final licenses to two more retailers, in Salem and Easthampton, but neither is expected to open immediately.


8:46 a.m.

More than two years after voters in Massachusetts approved of recreational marijuana for adults, there are finally places to buy it legally.

The state’s first commercial pot shops opened Tuesday in Leicester and Northampton. The stores are the first to operate on the East Coast of the U.S., and there were long lines at both locations.

Items for sale will include various strains of marijuana flower, pre-rolled joints and edibles such as brownies and chocolate bars.

Cannabis is sold legally in six Western states.

The rollout of legal pot sales has been slow in Massachusetts, with regulators saying they wanted to make sure it was done safely and without some of the supply issues other states have faced.

Several more stores could open in the coming months.

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