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Recreational Marijuana Shops Reopen For Business In Mass. — With Restrictions

A man stops to look at shuttered Pure Oasis, a recreational cannabis shop which just opened in early March in Dorchester. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A man stops to look at shuttered Pure Oasis, a recreational cannabis shop which just opened in early March in Dorchester. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Pot shops are once again open for business in Massachusetts — with some limited operations and new guidelines.

Under the state's reopening plan, recreational marijuana stores are now allowed to take online and phone orders to offer curbside pickup to customers.

"We're just excited," said Kobie Evans, co-owner of Pure Oasis in Dorchester. "We're looking forward to seeing our staff and our customers, and really want to make sure that people are safe and staying healthy and, you know, just looking forward to this new opportunity to be open after being closed for so long."

Pure Oasis — the first pot shop in Boston — was forced to shut down under a state order after being open for just two weeks. Evans said he plans to start offering curbside pickup Monday.

New England Treatment Access (NETA) will open its Northampton store Monday and its Brookline dispensary on Tuesday.

In a Brookline information session Friday, NETA president Amanda Rositano said the company will limit the number of adult-use customers to no more than 600 per day.

"We’re planning for a reduced volume of approximately a third of what our volume was prior to COVID — that includes our adult-use and our medical operations," Rositano said.

She added that customers will be required to schedule a pick-up time when they place their order.

Many in the cannabis industry had hoped adult-use sales would be able to resume much sooner since medical marijuana establishments were allowed to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But unlike other states, Massachusetts deemed recreational pot shops "non-essential," and they had to close down.

Gov. Charlie Baker previously maintained that recreational marijuana would attract people from out of state, and he didn't want to reopen them. Some pot shops even sued the governor, but lost their bid.

Now, folks in the industry are welcoming the chance to resume operations under the governor's phased reopening plan.

"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," the Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA) said in a statement. "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."

The adult-use industry has generated $120 million in revenue and grown to more than 8,000 jobs since sales began in 2018, according to CDA, which represents 80% of the state’s medical and recreational marijuana industry.

Pot shops won't be able to open for in-store sales until phase two of the governor's reopening plan. It's unclear when that will begin, but phase one is expected to last at least until June 8 — though that could be extended depending on some key health metrics the state is monitoring.

When pot shops are able to welcome customers in their stores again, they'll have capacity limits and other restrictions meant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Here's a map of marijuana businesses in the state:

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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