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Massachusetts mayor first in line as recreational marijuana sales begin

Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast Tuesday to allow recreational marijuana sales, meaning tens of millions of adult consumers, including those in New York City, are now within a three-hour drive from a pot shop.

CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil reports from Northampton, Massachusetts, where one of two stores opening in the state is located and where David Narkewicz will welcome legal recreational marijuana as both the ceremonial first customer and the town’s mayor.

“I think there’s a lot going on here in trying to bring marijuana out of the shadows,” Narkewicz said.

But when asked whether the purchase is simply ceremonial or it will be consumed, Narkewicz said, “I am actually going to probably preserve it and display it…because it is historically significant.”

Massachusetts is the seventh state to open retail marijuana shops, but the first to open them east of the Mississippi. The milestone comes as the cannabis industry celebrates a series of new highs.

Earlier this month, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to approve recreational cannabis– joining 10 other states and Washington, D.C. In October, Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana.

But the steady march of marijuana legalization has Dr. Sharon Levy concerned. She runs the adolescent substance use and addiction program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Instead of saying, ‘Well, we’ll assume these things are safe until they’re proven harmful,’ maybe we should be saying ‘These things might be harmful until they’re proven safe.’ I don’t think that’s something we’ve done a very good job with,” Levy said.

CONTINUE @ CBS