Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker received requests from two different groups to reverse a decision and declare recreational cannabis businesses as “essential” and, thus, allow adult-use companies to remain open during the coronavirus crisis.
The Republican governor heard from:
- A diverse group, including regulators and doctors, that argued permitting adult-use cannabis sales would be in line with stay-at-home orders in other states.
- A dozen Democratic state legislators who pointed out in a letter that Massachusetts recreational marijuana retailers were forced to close under an emergency order Baker signed March 23 that listed liquor stores as essential businesses.
But, according to the 12 – nine state representatives and three state senators – “regulations were put in place” by Massachusetts voters in 2016 to treat recreational marijuana in a similar fashion to the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Closing adult-use cannabis stores is causing “great harm to our local businesses,” the lawmakers said.
Baker said when he signed his order that he did not include recreational marijuana stores as essential businesses because he feared out-of-state consumers would come to Massachusetts to shop, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
One way to address the governor’s concern is to potentially restrict customers from other states, said Shaleen Title, a member of the Cannabis Control Commission, which oversees Massachusetts marijuana industry.
Under her proposal, The Boston Globe reported, recreational cannabis stores could follow the lead of medical marijuana dispensaries by limiting the number of people in stores, enhancing sanitation procedures and utilizing curbside pickups.
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