Massachusetts gov sued over closure of recreational cannabis stores

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A handful of adult-use marijuana businesses on Wednesday sued Massachusetts’ governor, seeking a reversal of his executive order requiring recreational cannabis stores to close during the COVID-19 crisis.

The lawsuit calls unconstitutional a decision by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that adult-use marijuana stores are nonessential businesses and must remain closed until May 4.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, contends the governor’s order forced 43 licensed adult-use retailers to close as well as “many more” cultivation and manufacturing facilities.

Together, those cannabis businesses employ about 8,000 workers and generate $13 million in weekly gross sales, according to the suit.

“By classifying adult-use marijuana establishments as nonessential, while classifying similar regulated businesses – such as liquor stores and medical marijuana dispensaries – as essential, the Executive Orders violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs and exceed the Governor’s executive authority,” the lawsuit charges.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a medical marijuana patient and five retailers:

  • Ascend Mass.
  • CommCan.
  • The Green Lady Dispensary.
  • MassGrow.
  • Slang (doing business as Bloom Brothers).

Baker said he didn’t classify adult-use marijuana stores as essential because he feared out-of-state customers would shop there, potentially spreading the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts regulators eased some rules to allow recreational cannabis cultivators, retailers and manufacturers to supply product to the state’s medical marijuana market, which has been surging.

The state received 1,308 new medical marijuana registrations from March 23 to April 1, a 158% increase from the previous 10-day period, according to the Cannabis Control Commission.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting strain on the medical supply chain constitutes a documented emergency,” according to an amended order signed by Shawn Collins, executive director of the commission.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.