No one would ever have thought the new decade would dawn like this. Three months into the year, a novel Coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China has infected over 2 million people and claimed at least 120,000 lives. Experts say the virus could end up infecting over 70% of the world’s population.
Once the gravity of the situation settled in, governments were scrambling to prevent the virus from spreading within their borders. One by one, they ordered lockdowns, requiring people to stay indoors unless they absolutely have to leave, and all but the most essential businesses have had to shut down. In most states that allow marijuana, medical and recreational marijuana were classified as essential businesses.
However, the state of Massachusetts classified recreational pot shops as non-essential, with officials stating it was to prevent out of state individuals from coming in and congesting the shops. A group of marijuana advocates has subsequently challenged Governor Charlie Baker’s order to close the recreational shops.
According to Northeastern University Law Professor Daniel Medwed, the basic legal argument was that for some people, recreational marijuana is as essential as going to the grocery or the pharmacy and that people use and rely on it to manage pain and ease anxiety.
“Some people, especially military veterans, are fearful that if they obtained a formal medical marijuana license that could jeopardize their receipt of federal benefits as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. So they opt for recreational marijuana to help cure what ails them,” he says.
The advocates, consisting of five recreational marijuana companies and a military veteran who uses marijuana for pain relief, are asking for a declaration from the court that recreational marijuana is essential and an order preventing the governor from keeping the businesses closed. They insist they can implement social distancing, and other sanitization precautions used by liquor and medical marijuana stores.
Medwed suggested restricting access to both medical and recreational dispensaries to Massachusetts residents to prevent out of state infections, which was one of the Governor’s main issues. However, he conceded that the chances of the suit being successful were quite low, stating that the court wouldn’t want to set a precedent that would allow other industries to contest their ‘non-essential’ status.
It seems his prediction was spot on after a judge ruled that Governor Baker did indeed have the authority to close recreational marijuana stores. “It seems reasonable for the governor to be concerned that the relatively few recreational marijuana stores are going to attract high volumes of customers including people traveling from other states,” stated Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger.
This court ruling is likely to have come as a disappointment to sector players, such as SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING), who realize that lots of people who have been benefiting from the closed pot shops will now suffer additional hardships during the lockdowns.
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