While States Deem Cannabis Essential, Massachusetts Closes Adult-Use Stores

While many states have chosen to let dispensaries stay open during the coronavirus crisis, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has announced the shutdown of adult-use sales.

Full story after the jump.

As states impose new coronavirus protection measures, regulators and lawmakers are employing different rules for the industry. So far several states – such as Illinois, Ohio, New York, and California – have allowed dispensaries to remain operational, often implementing social distancing rules. In Washington and Oregon, regulators have approved ‘curbside service’ for dispensaries; however, in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has shut down recreational sales, only allowing medical cannabis sales.

Baker announced yesterday the shutdown of all non-essential businesses in the state and did not give retail cannabis dispensaries an “essential” exemption, Boston.com reports. The dispensaries must stop selling to recreational customers by noon today.

“Because Massachusetts is one of the few states in a big geographic area that has available recreational marijuana and a ton of traffic associated with that is coming from other states, we felt that in particular would need to be closed and would not be considered as essential as part of this order.” – Baker during a press conference via Boston.com

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is allowing retail dispensaries to remain open amid the state’s shutdown but patients and customers are not allowed in the buildings and the businesses must rely on delivery services and curbside delivery, the Detroit Metro Times reports. Michigan’s order is effective for at least three weeks.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) had initially called for both retail dispensaries and liquor stores to shut down with the city’s stay-at-home order that takes effect a 5 p.m. today but changed the order to allow the stores to remain open “with extreme physical distancing,” according to the Denver Channel. Hancock’s original order would have allowed medical dispensaries to continue serving patients.

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced yesterday that all non-essential businesses in the province would shut down tonight at 11:59 p.m. but cannabis dispensaries will be considered essential under the order, BNN Bloomberg reports.

Earlier this week, 71 Canadian cannabis operators sent a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains asking that their companies get access to wage subsidies being made available to small businesses. Cannabis companies are currently not able to access the funds being made available under Canada’s coronavirus protection package.

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