Massachusetts Judge Affirms Governor’s Order to Close Dispensaries

A Massachusetts judge ruled that Gov. Baker acted within his authority when he ordered adult-use cannabis dispensaries to close during the coronavirus pandemic.

Full story after the jump.

A Massachusetts judge has ruled that Gov. Charlie Baker (R) acted within his authority to shut down recreational cannabis sales in the state, although the judge said he believed the shops could be reopened safely, the Boston Globe reports. The lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of dispensary owners and one medical cannabis patient.

In the ruling, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger said that state law only requires the governor to have some “rational basis” for shuttering the shops amid a pandemic and the plaintiffs would have “little chance” to prove Baker did not have that rational basis.

“It was reasonable for the governor to be concerned that the relatively few adult-use marijuana establishments in Massachusetts are more likely than liquor stores or [medical marijuana dispensaries] to attract high volumes of customers, including people traveling from other states. The governor’s decision to treat medical marijuana facilities and liquor stores differently than adult-use marijuana establishments has a rational basis and therefore is constitutional.” – Salinger in his ruling via the Globe

Salinger added that the plaintiffs made a “convincing showing” in their argument that the dispensaries could reopen safely by limiting sales only to Massachusetts residents and requiring appointment-only shopping or curbside pickup.

Adam Fine, an attorney at Vicente Sederberg who represented the plaintiffs, called the decision “unfortunate” but that he and his clients were “pleased” that Salinger “rejected the governor’s stated rationale” for closing the dispensaries “by declaring he could ‘lawfully’ limit adult-use cannabis sales to Massachusetts residents.”

David Torrisi, the president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Dispensary Association, said he was “encouraged” by the ruling because the judge acknowledged the industry “has several tools at its disposal” that would allow the shops to reopen safely.

Attorneys said they were still deciding whether they would appeal the ruling.

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