Most legal states and the cannabis industry have been heavily impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially Massachusetts as they were the only state with legal cannabis to close recreational cannabis stores due to COVID-19 concerns. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Monday that recreational marijuana stores are due to reopen on May 25 for curbside delivery only as part of a complete statewide reopening plan.
Shops in MA have been effectively shut down since March 24, when Baker published an order enforcing cannabis businesses considered “non-essential” to discontinue all operations in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While cannabis shops will be able to get back to business as usual and sell marijuana again, the financial costs are notable for the state’s small cannabis companies. Several of the state’s marijuana businesses have laid off or furloughed workers during the pandemic.
Baker said in March that he thought recreational stores staying open would draw customers from outside of Massachusetts to come into town and purchase marijuana. Though shops were already implementing social distancing and other health-based safety measures, and though some argued that the majority of customers come from within miles of the store, Baker did not budge.
While the reopening of recreational stores will bring some peace to rec customers, cannabis businesses have had tough times during the pandemic like just about every other industry. Unlike recreational businesses, medical marijuana dispensaries were actually considered essential by Baker and have been open this whole time. The state Cannabis Control Commission has allowed medical marijuana businesses to offer curbside pickup to patients and has said patient renewal certifications can be submitted after a phone consultation.
On Monday when asked if he still had some concerns, Baker said “yes.” But he also said it “makes sense” to apply the curbside pickup rules for all nonessential retail stores.
“If you’re gonna do curbside, it makes sense to do curbside for everybody,” Baker said, adding that there’s “plenty of evidence” that the risk of spreading the disease is less serious outside.