Recreational marijuana sales are legal in Massachusetts starting Sunday (though, there aren’t any stores actually licensed and open to make sales). But most of the state’s cities and towns have either a ban or a moratorium on retail sales.

That leads to the question: Have our attitudes on marijuana changed since the 2016 ballot question, when a little more than 53 percent of the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana?

Take Needham, a relatively wealthy town of around 30,000 people, that finds itself somewhere in the middle of this cultural shift. It allows medical marijuana sales, and has a medical dispensary in town, but voted against recreational marijuana in the 2016 referendum. In May, the town voted to ban recreational sales within its limits.

We visited Needham’s medical marijuana dispensary, Sira Naturals, which also has branches in Somerville and Cambridge. It’s located in a plain-looking, one-story building in an area without much foot traffic. Inside, it has the clean, modern feel of a bank lobby.

“What we’re trying to do at Sira Naturals is professionalize the industry to the extent that we can,” says CEO Michael Dundas.

Dundas, 48, is a Boston native and a former lawyer. He spent 15 years in California watching that state’s cannabis industry grow. When Massachusetts voters legalized medical marijuana in 2012, he moved back to start his own cannabis business, and since then, he says there has already been a dramatic shift in attitudes.

“Many folks have changed their minds about the medical marijuana use and we’re seeing hearts and minds changing on the adult front as well, but it’s happening slowly,” Dundas says.

Sira Naturals’ Needham dispensary (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

He says the cultural shift on marijuana is particularly evident on the business side.


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