Cannabis stores receive green light to reopen next week

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Recreational marijuana stores will be allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up next Monday, just more than two months after they were ordered to close as part of the essential work order Gov. Charlie Baker put in place to control the spread of COVID-19.

Though medical marijuana treatment centers have been allowed to fulfill patient orders throughout the pandemic, adult-use cannabis operations -- not just retailers, but also the growers and product manufacturers -- were shut down effective March 24.

Baker said they will be allowed to reopen Monday, May 25, for curbside pickup of orders.

"The whole point behind curbside is it doesn't require people to go inside and stand around," he said. "And there's plenty of evidence at this point that inside spaces with a long period of time in which people are there, especially if they don't have the ability to socially distance, is probably the biggest and most significant opportunity for spread."

Cannabis advocates have been calling on Baker for weeks to allow non-medical marijuana sales to resume, and the chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission has said he thinks the industry could operate safely and effectively. A group representing many of the state's cannabis retailers said Monday that it is glad Baker is allowing pot stores to be among the first businesses to reopen.

"We appreciate this gesture of confidence by the Administration and believe it is reflective of our industry’'s commitment to workplace and consumer safety, as well as our history of compliance and significant regulatory oversight," David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, said. "In addition to beginning to restore access to safe, tested adult-use cannabis, this determination provides a first step in providing meaningful economic relief to the more than 2,000 Massachusetts cannabis employees who will be able to return to work—workers who otherwise do not qualify for federal relief."

While adult-use shops have been closed, the CCC has seen a surge in registrations for the medical marijuana program. Though the product is largely identical, the medical program offers several benefits not available in the recreational market: medical marijuana is not taxed, patients can get marijuana delivered to their homes, and patients can buy edibles with higher THC levels than are allowed in the non-medical market.

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