Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steve Hoffman said yesterday that he believes the state’s recreational cannabis dispensaries could reopen by employing the social distancing protocols adopted by medical cannabis retailers, the Boston Globe reports. Adult-use sales in the state were shut down by Gov. Charlie Baker (R) amid the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order in March.
During his remarks at a virtual press conference yesterday, Hoffman said it was “unfair” that Baker shut down recreational sales and that the industry does not qualify for federal assistance aimed at standing up businesses affected by pandemic shutdowns. State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D) proposed legislation earlier this week to give the industry financial assistance from the state.
Commissioner Shaleen Title said during the press conference that the “most straightforward form of economic relief is for these businesses to just be able to open again.”
“I have no concerns whatsoever that we can operate this business safely. I think we’ve demonstrated that we can do so on the medical side of the business… [and] I think there’s absolutely no reason we can’t do exactly the same thing on the adult-use side.” – Hoffman during a press conference via the Globe
The state’s medical dispensaries were deemed essential businesses and have implemented precautions such as curbside pickup, appointment-only shopping, and contactless transactions; the shops have remained operational during the state’s coronavirus response. According to a MassLive report, Massachusetts saw a 14 percent increase in medical cannabis certifications in April, from 63,720 in March to 75,502. The state also saw more than 10,000 more ounces of medical cannabis sold from March to April, from 51,836 ounces to were 65,155 ounces, respectively.
Baker was sued over the closure of recreational cannabusinesses last month, and a judge would ultimately rule in his favor, saying that plaintiffs would have “little chance” to prove Baker did not have a “rational basis” for the action which would have been required for a positive judgement.
Hoffman said that he hopes to meet with members of an advisory board convened by Baker to plan the reopening of the state’s economy so he can “convince them that we are totally confident” cannabis stores can reopen safely, regardless of whether the state considers them “essential.”
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