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Early birds get the bud: NETA opens its doors to customers seeking recreational pot products

  • Arnon Vered, co-founder of NETA, sells the first edible marijuana candy bar to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the company’s Conz Street building. NETA is one of the first businesses to sell recreational marijuana in the state. A line behind the mayor stretched out the front door and behind NETA’s building. Some of those customers, including those who began lining up as early as 12:30 a.m., waited for NETA to open to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Arnon Vered, co-founder of NETA, sells the first edible marijuana candy bar to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the company’s Conz Street building. NETA is one of the first businesses to sell recreational marijuana in the state. A line behind the mayor stretched out the front door and behind NETA’s building. Some of those customers began lining up as early as 12:30 a.m. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Arnon Vered, co-founder of NETA, sells the first edible marijuana candy bar to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the company’s Conz Street building. NETA is one of the first businesses to sell recreational marijuana in the state. A line behind the mayor stretched out the front door and behind NETA’s building. Some of those customers began lining up as early as 12:30 a.m. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Arnon Vered, co-founder of NETA, sells the first edible marijuana candy bar to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the company’s Conz Street building. NETA is one of the first businesses to sell recreational marijuana in the state. A line behind the mayor stretched out the front door and behind NETA’s building. Some of those customers began lining up as early as 12:30 a.m. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Arnon Vered, co-founder of NETA, sells the first edible marijuana candy bar to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the company’s Conz Street building. NETA is one of the first businesses to sell recreational marijuana in the state. A line behind the mayor stretched out the front door and behind NETA’s building. Some of those customers began lining up as early as 12:30 a.m. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Daquaan Hamilton, left, of Northampton, arrived Tuesday at 12:30 a.m. to be the first in line to buy recreational marijuana at NETA on Conz Street in Northampton. Hamilton stands with Ben Smith of Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Daquaan Hamilton holds a pricing sheet while waiting for NETA to open as the first in line to buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Daquaan Hamilton, of Northampton, braves the cold after arriving at 12:30 a.m. to be the first in line to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at NETA. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Roger Crocker, of Connecticut, one of the first in line at NETA to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alyson Daniels, a Smith College student who is from Alabama, stands in a line going around the block at NETA to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018. “I’ve been waiting for this for along time,” she said. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Potsquatch from Potco in Springfield mingles with people in line who were waiting to be the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at NETA Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Potsquatch from Potco in Springfield mingles with people in line who were waiting to be the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at NETA Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Front left is Daquaan Hamilton, of Northampton, who arrived at 12:30 a.m. to be the first in line, and Ben Smith of Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A line going around the block at NETA to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Brittany Kamyk, of Agawam, stands in line at NETA to legally buy recreational marijuana Tuesday, November 20, 2018. She was excited to try it for the first time, after hearing from friends that it helps with anxiety. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dick Evans, of Northampton, outside NETA Tuesday, November 20, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Even Willy Wonka never thought of this: New England Treatment Access sold a THC-infused chocolate bar to Northampton mayor David Narkewicz on Tuesday morning, ushering in a new, post-prohibition era of marijuana in Massachusetts.

NETA co-founder Arnon Vered gave the mayor a piece of oft-cited advice during the historic transaction: “Start low and slow.” Narkewicz has said he does not plan on eating the Belgian chocolate bar — which the NETA product catalog says will “send you on a journey of awakening” — but he plans to display it in his office before donating it to Historic Northampton. Still wrapped, of course.

Outside the marijuana dispensary on Conz Street, a line of more than 100 people wrapped around the property and waited in the cold and rain for the shop’s doors to open at 8 a.m. Some traveled from as far as New Haven and New York City to visit. One guy was dressed as a marijuana plant. NETA was one of only two pot shops given the green light by the Cannabis Control Commission to begin recreational sales on Tuesday. The other company, Cultivate Holdings, is a hybrid medical-recreational cannabis shop in Leicester.

Daquaan Hamilton, first in line after the mayor, said that standing in the freezing rain for nearly eight hours was well worth the wait.

Hamilton, 22, a Northampton resident, knew it would be a “momentous occasion” and described the sale of legal marijuana as a “huge step” for the state.

“I wanted to be the first person to buy weed recreationally east of the Mississippi,” said Hamilton, who pulled into NETA’s parking lot just past midnight to get in line. With a NETA menu in hand, Hamilton said he planned on purchasing a RUBI vaporizer and as well as some edible gummies. 

Luckily for him, Hamilton had the rest of the day off from work. 

A few spots behind Hamilton was Roger Crocker, 69, who arrived at 3:30 a.m. from West Haven, Connecticut, to get in line.

“I’ve been waiting 38 years to do this legally,” Crocker said. “I am an old hippie from the ’70s, and I hope Connecticut follows suit. The money’s there to be made.” 

Crocker’s first purchases: Some edibles and a $300 ounce of “the best stuff they have.”

Trevor Agostino, of Granby, said he wanted to get some edibles to enjoy on Thanksgiving. 

When Agawam resident Brittany Kamyk, 23, recently found out that NETA would be one of the first shops to begin recreational sales of marijuana, she said she wanted to try cannabis to alleviate anxiety and stress. Kamyk said she was excited for the chance to buy pot legally after an unsuccessful attempt to get a medicinal marijuana card from her doctor. 

Since Kamyk is a “big chocolate fan,” she planned on buying an edible and a vaporizer.  

Kamyk said her friends have tried marijuana, and they have told her that “it helps them relax, not stress out — and they feel so much better when they use it.” 

Traveling from New York City, Steven McCants said he arrived in line at 5 a.m. to make be a part of history.

“This is the first in the New England area, (the first) on this side of the United States, and it’s amazing,” McCants said excitedly, keeping dry under an umbrella. He said he was going to buy Jack Frost, a strain that would “keep him up.”    

“Early bird gets the worm, and the first one in line gets the bud,” McCants added with a laugh. 

Northampton lawyer Dick Evans, an expert on medical marijuana who has long pushed for legalization of the drug, also turned out for the first sales of legal marijuana at NETA. Evans said he was not there to buy anything for himself but to “observe and celebrate,” he said. 

“It’s a remarkable day,” Evans said. “As a Northampton guy, I think people in Northampton will be very proud to know that history will record that at this place, at this time, on this date, the final nail was driven into the coffin of marijuana prohibition. I never dreamed it would be right around the corner from my office. This is ground zero on the East Coast.” 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com