Charlie Baker order lets medical marijuana shop stay open, but shuts down recreational sales


Recreational marijuana gross sales in Massachusetts will go on an at the least two-week hiatus beneath a brand new order in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The emergency order introduced Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker requires all nonessential companies within the state to shut by midday Tuesday or permit staff to work remotely, as officers step up social distancing efforts to sluggish the unfold of the illness. And whereas “medical marijuana retailers” had been included on the prolonged listing of “essential” companies that may keep open, adult-use pot retailers didn’t get an exception.

In different phrases, the greater than 67,700 Massachusetts residents with registered medical marijuana playing cards will nonetheless be capable of stroll into any of the 61 dispensaries licensed to serve them.

Baker declares closure of nonessential companies, points keep at house advisory

But the state’s leisure marijuana prospects — who spent greater than $400 million on merchandise final 12 months — are out of luck. The Cannabis Control Commission despatched out an order on Monday night time directing the state’s 42 retail dispensaries to stop and desist adult-use operations by midday Tuesday. And the state’s 14 adult-use-only retailers, which aren’t licensed to make medical marijuana gross sales, must utterly shut till at the least April 7, if not longer.

During a press convention Monday morning, Baker attributed the choice to the variety of out-of-state marijuana prospects coming to Massachusetts, the one state on the East Coast the place adult-use pot retailers are open.

“Because Massachusetts is one of the few states in a big geographic area that has available recreational marijuana and a ton of traffic associated with that is coming from other states, we felt that in particular would need to be closed and would not be considered as essential as part of this order,” he mentioned.

Baker mentioned the order — which goals to cut back the pointless person-to-person contact that facilitates the unfold of COVID-19 — handled medical dispensaries like well being care amenities, which had been designated important companies together with grocery shops, pharmacies, and even liquor shops.

However, the truth that leisure pot retailers didn’t get the identical remedy drew outcries from hashish trade advocates and drug coverage reformers.

Massachusetts is the primary state with licensed adult-use marijuana dispensaries to designate them as nonessential for the needs of the coronavirus response. Similar orders in California, Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon have allowed each medical and leisure marijuana dispensaries to remain open.

David Torrisi, the president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, mentioned Monday that “classifying adult use cannabis retailers as non-essential on the grounds that they attract customers from out of state overlooks the relief and comfort these products provide to thousands of Massachusetts residents and the efforts undertaken by the operations themselves.”

While appreciative that medical dispensaries within the state had been designated as important, Torrisi mentioned many purchasers and not using a card use hashish to handle related situations and signs.

“This loss of access would be akin to losing out on over the counter remedies for many,” he mentioned in a press release. “For others, cannabis provides a small measure of relaxation which can help to ease the anxieties we are all facing during this time, much like a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day.”

Torrisi additionally famous that the state’s leisure marijuana dispensaries are already extremely regulated and have been implementing measures in adherence with the federal authorities’s protected distancing pointers.

Earlier this month, the CCC inspired dispensaries to evaluate protocols round hygiene, line administration, and pre-orders. And the state’s busiest marijuana retailer, New England Treatment Access in Brookline, introduced final week that it was quickly halting adult-use gross sales and would solely permit medical sufferers in response to an order by Baker limiting public gatherings to 25 individuals (that restrict was decreased to 10 individuals Monday). Some different retailers mentioned they might solely permit leisure prospects in the event that they reserved their orders forward of time.

In the wake of the order Monday, dispensaries licensed to promote each adult-use and medical marijuana mentioned they’d stay open for registered sufferers. However, adult-use-only retailers, like Pure Oasis, the one leisure dispensary open in Boston, expressed hope they may reopen on April 7, although officers have famous the order could possibly be prolonged longer.

Torrisi requested the Baker administration to rethink their determination to close down leisure gross sales. In a sequence of tweets Monday, the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a New England-based marijuana legalization advocacy nonprofit, argued that the leisure prospects would merely flip again to the unregulated unlawful market within the meantime; the Netherlands lately reversed the same determination in response to the coronavirus, finally permitting the nation’s well-known espresso retailers to stay open beneath sure situations. The group prompt states like Massachusetts ought to take into account permitting marijuana supply, relatively than closing shops, to encourage social distancing.

Currently, the state has solely licensed supply providers for medical marijuana sufferers. Earlier this month, the CCC inspired dispensaries providing medical marijuana supply to advertise and develop these providers. And in a public bulletin Friday, the company introduced a course of for healthcare suppliers to certify new medical marijuana sufferers utilizing telehealth providers.

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