Recreational cannabis sales in Massachusetts could be revived next week under phase one of the state’s economic reopening plan after being shut down by Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on March 24, NBC Boston reports. Under the plan, businesses that were deemed unessential by the governor must develop written plans to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, display hygiene posters, and implement social distancing protocols for employees and customers.
Retail businesses that are permitted to reopen during phase one would be allowed to offer curbside pickup starting on May 25.
Baker shut down recreational sales over fears that people would travel to the dispensaries from out-of-state. Despite calls to reopen the businesses by members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission – including its chairman – Baker refused. A group of dispensary owners and patients sued the governor over the closures but a judge ultimately ruled in his favor.
The judge did indicate that, while he could see a path forward for recreational sales during the pandemic, he did not have the authority to override the governor’s emergency order.
According to a MassLive report, the state saw a 14 percent increase in medical cannabis program enrollment from March to April. The increase could be due to the closures, but regulators also approved telehealth services for program recommendations as part of the state’s pandemic response. Medical cannabis sales are untaxed in Massachusetts, while recreational sales carry a 6.25 percent sales tax, a 10.75 percent state excise tax, and up to a 3 percent tax at the local level.