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Recreational Marijuana Shops Sue Gov. Baker Over Shutdown

Marijuana. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Marijuana. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A group of marijuana dispensaries have sued Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker over his decision to shutdown recreational pot operations in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday asks the court to allow recreational pot shops to reopen, saying the closure will cause serious harm to the industry.

The Republican governor says keeping the stores open would harm the state’s ability to control the spread of the virus because they draw many customers from other states where recreational marijuana remains illegal.

“Significant numbers of the customers who procure cannabis at recreational marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts are not from Massachusetts,” Baker said Wednesday. “Making those sites available to anybody from the northeast would cut completely against the entire strategy we’re trying to pursue.”

Baker, who has been cool to the emerging cannabis industry and publicly opposed legalization, bristled when asked by a reporter if sales could be restricted to Massachusetts residents only.

"You know, I'm really focused at this point on the surge, which is going to involve trying to save the lives of tens of thousands of people here in Massachusetts," Baker curtly replied. "And I really would hope that people in Massachusetts would focus on that too because that is in many respects going to be our greatest challenge over the next two or three weeks," he added.

The Cannabis Control Commission said Tuesday that recreational marijuana suppliers can sell their products to medical cannabis dispensaries. The state has said medical marijuana sales are “essential” and may continue.

The number of people seeking medical marijuana cards has surged as recreational pot shops have been forced to close during the pandemic.

With additional reporting from the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on April 09, 2020.

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