“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.”
At noon on Monday, May 18, shortly after Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito publicly announced the details of a four-phase pandemic reopening plan, Massachusetts issued a final cease and desist and summary suspension order relative to “Marijuana Establishments,” “Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers,” and “Colocated Marijuana Operations.”
Specifically, the state’s “Cannabis Control Commission … issue[d] [the orders] in compliance with Baker’s Order Assuring Continued Operations of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 10 People issued on March 23, 2020.”
In simpler terms, after much deliberation in and out of court over the closing of recreational cannabis shops during the pandemic, starting May 25, you will again be able to purchase everything from edibles to oils at your local rec dispensary. With restrictions, of course, including phone and online orders with curbside pickup only. The order reads, in part:
All licensed Marijuana Establishments (MEs), Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTCs), and Colocated Marijuana Operations (CMOs) (collectively, “Licensees”) are permitted to operate their physical workplaces and facilities (“brick-and-mortar premises”) and begin a phased reopening of their business subject to the Governor’s COVID-19 Order No, 33.
Heightened standards include:
Licensees shall maintain written operating procedures for workplace safety in accordance with [state law] and specifically demonstrate compliance with the mandatory workplace safety standards identified in the reopening requirements …
Licensees may transfer marijuana and marijuana products subject to compliance with the Commission’s regulations, including testing of marijuana and marijuana products to the extent necessary to comply with M.G.L. c. 94G, sec. 15(a)(2). Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit or prevent re-testing of marijuana and marijuana products if a Licensee believes it is appropriate to promote and protect public health and safety.
Beginning on May 25, 2020, Marijuana Establishments may reopen their businesses to conduct licensed retail operations subject to continued compliance with the Governor’s orders, guidance, and directives identified in items a-f, above, and subject to the Commission’s administrative orders and bulletins. This shall include all current and future orders that may necessarily be updated in accordance with Covid-19 Order No. 33, including, but not limited to, Administrative Order No. 1 relative to Curbside Operations.
In a media statement, the Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA), which boasts that it represents “80% of the state’s medical and adult-use industry,” wrote that its members are “pleased with the Baker-Polito Administration’s inclusion of the adult-use cannabis industry as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the Massachusetts economy.” The statement continued:
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. 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.
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. In preparation for a phased resumption of adult-use operations, the CDA developed a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan, incorporating existing practices from medical operators, while looking to national best practice, federal public health guidelines, and input from all 38 CDA members to demonstrate exactly how this industry can safely operate.
“By beginning to safely resume adult-use cannabis operations through this plan, our industry will continue to make critical contributions by bringing in millions of dollars of state and local tax revenue to help fill depleted public funds,” CDA President David Torrisi said in the statement. “Although this period of time has been challenging, we are grateful for the Administration’s thoughtful leadership throughout the pandemic and the unwavering dedication to protecting our residents.”