The Commercial Appeal - - Sports -

mar­i­juana is no more of a dan­ger to so­ci­ety than al­co­hol.”

Mas­sachusetts hopes to side­step sup­ply prob­lems and other early pit­falls ex­pe­ri­enced in le­gal states, and most re­cently in Canada, where con­sumers en­dured ram­pant short­ages af­ter sales be­gan last month.

Cal­i­for­nia, which kicked off recre­ational sales on Jan. 1, re­mains in a chal­leng­ing tran­si­tion pe­riod as it at­tempts to trans­form what was once a largely vast, il­le­gal mar­ket into a multi­bil­lion­dol­lar, reg­u­lated econ­omy.

Like Mas­sachusetts, many ar­eas of Cal­i­for­nia have banned com­mer­cial pot ac­tiv­ity. Ini­tial tax col­lec­tions have been well be­low pro­jec­tions, and a shaky sup­ply chain has cus­tomers look­ing at bar­ren shelves in some shops.

Washington state launched le­gal mar­i­juana sales in mid-2014, shortly af­ter Colorado, fol­low­ing a lengthy scram­ble to li­cense grow­ers, pro­ces­sors and stores, all of which had to con­test a gant­let of reg­u­la­tions rang­ing from what pes­ti­cides they could use to lo­cal zon­ing rules. Only four stores opened on the first day of sales, with cus­tomers wait­ing in long lines to pay ex­or­bi­tant prices for mar­i­juana also in short sup­ply.

Among the con­cerns as recre­ational sales be­gin in Mas­sachusetts are those of med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tients.

A sep­a­rate area in­side the Northamp­ton store will be re­served for cus­tomers reg­is­tered in the state’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram, and they will not be forced to wait in the same lines with recre­ational cus­tomers to en­ter the build­ing, Al­baraez said.

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