Massachusetts – Cannabis Retailers Fear Another Shutdown Owing to COVID-19

Medical Marijuana

Cannabis stores in several states have enjoyed their part of the active and energetic business during the lockdown. However, New England did not necessarily have the same situation. This week was important for Massachusetts because of the reopening of recreational cannabis stores. This was after the lockdown caused the closing of stores for the past 2 months. However, along came a set of strict laws.

Despite the reopening, many fear the resurgence of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. This only leads to the fear that the state officials would resume their earlier orders and close down stores again. Massachusetts is the sole state to categorize the cannabis stores as “non-essential” during the pandemic.

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President of New England Treatment Access, Amanda Rositano has expressed her concern regarding this. Her organization runs two cannabis shops that provide both recreational, and medicinal cannabis. Amanda says that this pushed them back tremendously in the last 2 months. She added that their sales experienced an 85% to 90% reduction and they had to move on with bare essentials.

Last month, a couple of cannabis stores had tried to sue Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. The group debated that the order for closing of their stores was whimsical while liquor stores and medical cannabis dispensaries were allowed to be open and deemed as “essential businesses.”

Baker’s office chose not to comment this week on the concerns of the industry. However, he previously stated that Massachusetts’ cannabis stores could attract on-residents of the state and worsen the spread of the virus. He stressed on this as the state’s cannabis stores were the only operational ones on the East coast.

Recreational cannabis plans in Massachusetts

11 states and Washington, D.C have issued the legalization of recreational cannabis. However, the government has prohibited the opening of cannabis retail stores. Retailers in Massachusetts reported average demand after the reopening of stores as the state begins to make its way out of the worst outbreaks of the pandemic in the country.

Voters approved recreational cannabis sales in 2016 in Maine. Officials there had aimed the opening of the first cannabis retail stores in spring 2020. However, Spokesman for Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy, David Heidrich said that the pandemic paused this plan indefinitely. Managing Director at the Wellness Connection, Charlie Langston said that cannabis businesses are now hoping for the first recreational cannabis stores to reopen this fall. The expected plan is the addition of recreational sales to existing 4 medical cannabis dispensaries.

Recovering from the loss during the lockdown

Cannabis businesses have taken pleasure in the sales boost as customers began stocking cannabis in the initial days of the lockdown in March. A spokesman for the Cannabis Industry Association, Morgan Fox said that the cannabis holiday 420, on April 20, soon followed this sales boost.

He explained that the public is turning towards cannabis to deal with the anxiety during the lockdown, which in turn has caused an increase in sales. Fox added that the federal government’s $2 trillion relief fund bill has not benefitted the cannabis industry. He continued that the illegality of cannabis in terms of federal laws has resulted in this.

Interestingly, April cannabis sales in Washington, Oregon, and California, were higher this year compared to the last. Meanwhile, April cannabis sales in Nevada and Colorado reduced significantly in comparison to last April.

CEO of Curalead, Joe Lusardi, says that reopened retailers are hoping for permission to expand their services. He added that they are showing tremendous efforts to display operations of safe and responsible social distancing. The government permitted other nonessential retailers to reopen this week. However, curbside pickup and online and phone orders have restricted all nonessential businesses. Meanwhile, in-person transactions along with delivery are available options for medical cannabis dispensaries.

Saher Asad Mir: