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May 19, 2020

Mass. recreational marijuana sales will resume on Monday

PHOTO/BRAD KANE The cannabis dispensary Good Chemistry on Harrison Street in Worcester

Recreational cannabis sales may resume on the Memorial Day holiday, under Gov. Charlie Baker’s phased economic reopening plan, ending a two-month shutdown of the adult-use side of the industry. 

Adult-use cannabis dispensaries will have to follow the same social distancing rules as other retailers in the state, fulfilling orders through curbside pickup until further notice. They will be required to craft written operating procedures for workplace safety, as well as demonstrate compliance with workplace safety standards detailed in the state's reopening plan, according to an amended cease and desist order released by the Cannabis Control Commission.

Manufacturing of adult-use cannabis, including testing and cultivation, were allowed to resume immediately on Monday. 

Industry representatives rejoiced over the news.

“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,” said David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, in a statement.

Under Baker’s economic shutdown, adult-use marijuana establishments were deemed nonessential and forced to temporarily cease operations. Baker argued allowing adult-use cannabis sales to continue would attract out-of-state visitors at a time when travel has been largely discouraged.

Many cannabis industry officials took issue with this designation, arguing among other things that they were already used to complying with hefty state regulations, and pointing to the fact that Baker allowed medical marijuana operations to continue during the shutdown.

“We have long maintained that adult-use retail facilities are uniquely prepared to safely operate as we combat the spread of COVID-19 as our industry has successfully done so on the medical side,” Torrisi said.

Statewide, cannabis sales have generated $120 million in state and local revenue since 2018, Torrisi said. Reopening, he argued, would provide an opportunity to replenish public coffers suffering under the shutdown.

Some 2,000 cannabis industry employees are expected to be put back to work as the reopening commences, he said.

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