Brookline celebrates opening of its first recreational marijuana dispensary


Jordan Baron

NETA employees stand outside the company’s Brookline location, which opened its doors to recreational users Saturday.

Jordan Baron, news staff

The first recreational marijuana dispensary in the greater Boston area opened last weekend, bringing large crowds to its doors.

New England Treatment Access, or NETA, opened its doors to recreational users Saturday at 9 a.m. in Brookline. The shop has been used since 2016 as a medicinal dispensary until recently when it was transformed into a recreational facility. In November, NETA first began serving recreational consumers at its Northampton location, drawing hundreds of customers from across the state.

Jordan Baron
The line for the first day of recreational use trailed far behind the dispensary. The store is conveniently located near Boston.

The first in line at the new dispensary Saturday was James Jenner, a 38-year-old man from Salem. Jenner, who suffers from diabetes and anxiety, said at an opening ceremony that cannabis has been the drug that has helped him most.

“I choose not to do the medicinal card route. I didn’t want to be in a database, I didn’t want to pay the fees,” Jenner said. “I wanted to have that sense of normality that any patient can get going into a CVS for their prescription to get the medication that they need to live a normal everyday life.”

Jenner said he believes the opening of this new shop will affect many people in similar situations.

“The accessibility is going to open this up to a lot of people who are in my situation who need this kind of thing in their life just to live a normal life,” he said.

Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair Neil A. Wishinsky made an appearance at the opening and even took part as one of the first customers at the dispensary. Wishinsky bought nuggets, which are small and chewy caramel-sized edibles, along with lumens, which are flavored distillate-based soft edibles.

Wishinsky described the experience of purchasing recreational marijuana as “a little daunting,” but told the crowd he was honored to take part in the transaction.

Prior to the event, it was predicted that the opening of the store could attract crowds upwards of 800 people. While the crowd was much smaller than the predictions, Wishinsky still seemed proud of how everything turned out.

“I don’t see any traffic jams, the lines seem to be manageable,” Wishinsky said. “People seem to be taking the advice to take the T, so the predictions of an apocalypse are not coming true. We’re hoping this is just a smooth non-event from the town’s perspective, and that things will go smoothly. We have a good plan, we have a good staff on site [and] NETA has a lot of staff. Hopefully things will go smooth as they have been.”

One major factor that has many Brookline residents worried is the proximity of the dispensary to Brookline High School. Wishinsky, however, is confident that NETA’s security will minimize, if not eliminate, illegal transactions.

Wishinsky said many in the Brookline community hope that the opening of the store will bring financial success to the neighborhood.

“Hopefully it’ll mean additional tax revenue, and hopefully additional business for some of the surrounding merchants,” Wishinsky said. “The residents around this area have been anticipating this, concerned, and just hoping things would go well. I think we have it under control.”

NETA employees said it was a rewarding experience to finally witness the dispensary’s grand opening.  

“For me, it’s amazing. I’ve been working in cultivation at NETA for three and a half years, so it’s the realization of something we started,” said Chris Ayers, a 38-year-old Quincy resident.

Ayers said he’s happy with the direction of the  national conversation around marijuana.

“It’s just a plant that people have been locked up for far too long for,” he said. “I think it’s just good to see that stigma starting to lift around the country.”