Ruling backs MA gov’s closure of adult-use cannabis stores – but offers options

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A Massachusetts judge has ruled that Gov. Charlie Baker was within his authority to shutter recreational cannabis stores during the current coronavirus crisis, disappointing an industry that is losing nearly $2 million a day because of the closures.

But industry officials pledge to continue discussions with Baker’s administration about reopening the stores and noted the judge’s ruling indicated a path for adult-use cannabis shops to reopen.

David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, said in an emailed statement to the media that the ruling confirming Baker’s executive authority was expected.

However, “we are encouraged by the judge’s acknowledgement that the cannabis industry has several tools at its disposal which would allow adult-use cannabis shops to reopen without harming public health or safety – including limiting sales to Massachusetts residents, reserve-ahead ordering and curbside pickup,” Torrisi wrote.

Adam Fine of the Boston office of the Vicente Sederberg law firm, the plaintiffs’ co-counsel in the case, added that the judge acknowledged the situation is challenging for medical cannabis patients who have been relying on the adult-use market.

Fine indicated in a statement that the plaintiffs are reviewing their legal options, but “we hope the governor will follow his legal option to reopen adult-use cannabis stores with a temporary ban on sales to nonresidents.”

Baker instituted the closure on March 24, and unless it’s modified, the order is in effect until May 4.