A commissioner with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission urged Governor Charlie Baker on March 30 to authorize the reopening of recreational marijuana stores. The commissioner deemed the stores as essential businesses together with the medical dispensaries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A week ago, Baker ordered that all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts should shut down until April 7. However, he allowed the medical dispensaries to remain open, adding that they will be:
“treated the same way we treat healthcare operations.”
He explained that his decision to close all recreational marijuana operations was a result of the traffic that they attract from the nearby states. However, Massachusetts cannabis Commissioner Shaleen Title believes that social distancing and enhanced sanitization efforts among employees can be applied to these stores the same way it is applied in the medical dispensaries.
The commission has enhanced its measures to ensure that there is minimal in-person contact required to acquire cannabis products in the state. The agency is for now allowing new medical marijuana patients to be certified through telehealth instead of needing in-person appointments. Thus, medical marijuana dispensaries can offer curbside or at-the-door pickup services.
Title said in a statement:
“I believe those same measures, potentially along with a restriction on out-of-state customers, could be applied to adult-use facilities to allow for resumed operations. Reopening these businesses would provide access to the many adult-use consumers who rely on cannabis for medical purposes.”
Title is part of a group of cannabis advocates, veterans, doctors, and consumers who published their plea on March 30 for Baker to reconsider his order. The team includes an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital; Will Luzier, Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Dr. Marion McNabb, CEO of the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network; together with Iraq War veteran Stephen Mandile. Mandile was one of Massachusett’s first recreational-use marijuana consumers.
An attorney who is also a member of the Cannabis Control Commission Advisory Board, Shanel Lindsay, was also a part of this group. They all requested Baker’s administration to consider all cannabis consumers who heavily rely on the plant for medicinal purposes but have decided not to get a medical marijuana card. Lindsay said in a statement:
“Getting a medical card in MA is hundreds-of-dollars expensive – and it places patients on a list that many rightfully fear puts them at risk of losing their jobs, homes, or children. Though advocates have fought so admirably over the years to remove barriers so that all patients can be treated as such, we already know that, especially in underserved communities, the level of registered patients is far below the actual number of those who use and consume this plant for medical purposes.”
For now, it is up to the governor to decide whether he will reopen the recreational stores in the state or not.