While most adult-use states have deemed both medical and recreational cannabis retailers essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker made the unusual decision to force adult-use stores to close while allowing medical dispensaries to remain open. Immediately following the announcement, Bay State residents started rushing to apply for medical marijuana cards, flooding the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) with over 1,000 applications in just one single week.
The CCC realized the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries might not have enough supply to meet this sudden rush in demand. Meanwhile, adult-use retailers are being forced to sit on huge inventories of weed that they are unable to move until the quarantine is lifted. To balance the system, the CCC issued an order that will allow licensed adult-use businesses to make wholesale weed transfers to medical cannabis dispensaries that are located on the same premises.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting strain on the medical supply chain constitutes a documented emergency… and permitting the transfer of existing, finished adult-use marijuana and marijuana products… is necessary to avoid harmful disruptions to the medical marijuana supply chain,” the CCC wrote in its order, according to the Berkshire Eagle.
Out of all the legal weed products currently being tracked by the state’s seed-to-sale inventory system, 66 percent of all flower, 40 percent of all concentrates, and 63 percent of edibles and other infused products are all earmarked for the adult-use industry. The new order will allow adult-use retailers to transfer these products to medical dispensaries that are running low on supplies.
Although adult-use sales will remain prohibited until at least May, adult-use cultivators will not be forced to abandon their existing grows. Cultivators will be allowed to continue feeding, irrigating, and taking care of existing plants, and will also be allowed to harvest, dry, and cure plants that have reached maturity. Businesses will also be allowed to grow new plants, if they can demonstrate that these plants are necessary to meet the demand for medical cannabis.
The CCC order also included a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of cannabis industry employees during the crisis. Cannabis licensees are now required to notify the commission if any of their employees are diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19. The order also creates a process for employees who feel they are being forced to work under unsafe conditions to privately report their concerns to state regulators.