Original Article By John Schroyer at: Marijuana Business Daily
Most state governments around the nation have deemed medical marijuana companies “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the vast majority can keep doing business after residents were told to stay at home and many businesses were ordered to scale back or close their operations.
But the picture is murkier for recreational cannabis companies.
The quickly spreading coronavirus – and the surge of states telling residents to stay home – has created confusion among cannabis companies over whether officials would require them to cease operations, even temporarily.
Decisions handed down from various government sources
Here’s where each state – and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – with some form of statewide, districtwide or territorywide stay-at-home order stands as of the morning of April 2:
Alaska: Cannabis companies are not specifically addressed by the governor’s stay-at-home order or in a list of “essential” businesses issued by the state. But a spokesperson for the state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office confirmed that cannabis businesses are considered essential and can remain open as long as they are able to comply with strict social-distancing requirements, such as not allowing more than 10 people – including employees – inside a retail establishment at one time.
Arizona: Although neither the governor’s stay-at-home order nor a supporting document listing “essential” businesses include any mention of cannabis, multiple industry sources told Marijuana Business Daily that dispensaries are still operational and believe the MMJ retailers are included in the state’s definition of “essential” as part of the health-care sector.
California: Every state-licensed marijuana company is allowed to continue operating, according to state guidance and statements from regulators.
Colorado: Both medical and recreational marijuana retailers are allowed to continue operations, under an executive order issued by the governor last week before he released a statewide stay-at-home order on March 25. However, recreational cannabis shops are limited to curbside pickup while medical dispensaries can stay fully open.
Connecticut: Medical marijuana dispensaries and producers are classified as part of the state’s health-care sector and are exempt from closures, according to state guidance.
Delaware: All medical marijuana dispensaries are exempt from closure during the statewide stay-at-home order issued by the governor, the state’s joint information center confirmed to MJBizDaily via email.
Florida: The governor issued a stay-at-home order on April 1, and although the order doesn’t mention marijuana, the state’s surgeon general had previously provided guidance to the industry that medical cannabis companies qualify as an “essential” part of Florida’s health-care sector.
Hawaii: The governor’s stay-at-home order designates licensed MMJ dispensaries and cultivation centers as “essential.”
Illinois: All state-licensed cannabis growers and retailers are “essential” according to the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Louisiana: The medical marijuana supply chain is exempt from closure under the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order, state officials confirmed to MJBizDaily via email.
Maine: The governor issued a stay-at-home order on March 31. Regulators classified Maine’s MMJ dispensaries and caregivers among the state’s “medical facilities” in a memo shared with the industry on March 24, meaning they can continue to serve patients. The state’s recreational cannabis market has not yet launched.
Maryland: Although the governor’s stay-at-home order does not specifically mention the cannabis industry, the state had previously issued guidance classifying medical marijuana businesses as “essential.”
Massachusetts: The governor has classified “licensed medical marijuana retailers” as essential but not recreational cannabis businesses, which were required to close by March 23.
Michigan: Although the governor’s stay-at-home order doesn’t mention marijuana or cannabis directly, the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs stipulated in a news release on Monday that all licensed medical and recreational marijuana businesses can remain operational. Retailers, however, are limited to “curbside service or delivery,” meaning storefronts will not be open to the public.
Minnesota: The market’s two medical marijuana companies are exempt from statewide closures under the governor’s recent statewide stay-at-home order, according to cannabis operator Vireo Health.
Montana: The governor’s stay-at-home order classifies medical marijuana businesses as “essential,” so all state-licensed businesses can continue operations.
Nevada: The governor issued a stay-at-home order on April 1 but, before that, had already ordered all “nonessential” businesses to close. In a March 20 order, however, the governor classified all state-licensed marijuana businesses as “essential,” allowing them to continue operations. Retail sales are limited to home delivery only, according to the March 20 order.
New Hampshire: No reference to marijuana or cannabis was included in the governor’s stay-at-home order or a supporting document listing “essential” businesses in New Hampshire. However, regulators told the state’s five dispensaries that they are considered “essential” and can continue operations, according to multiple industry sources.
New Jersey: All medical marijuana dispensaries were classified as “essential” by the governor’s stay-at-home order.
New Mexico: The state Department of Health issued guidance to medical marijuana businesses before the governor’s stay-at-home order, clarifying that all MMJ producers are an “essential” part of the health-care sector.
New York: In a clarification document released after the governor’s stay-at-home order, the state Department of Health said all licensed MMJ companies are classified as “essential.”
Ohio: The governor’s stay-at-home order classified all licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and growers as “essential.”
Oklahoma: All MMJ businesses were categorized as “essential” and can remain operational, the state’s Medical Marijuana Authority clarified on Twitter this week after the governor issued a statewide Safer-at-Home order for the elderly and “vulnerable populations.”
Oregon: The governor’s stay-at-home order doesn’t specifically mention cannabis or marijuana. But the state Liquor Control Commission, which oversees the industry, issued a temporary rule allowing licensed MJ retailers to provide curbside pickups for customers who submit orders online. So far, the state has not classified the industry as “essential.”
Pennsylvania: The governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. Before that, on March 20, the state included medical marijuana companies on a list of “life-sustaining businesses” that can remain operational during the coronavirus outbreak.
Puerto Rico: The U.S. territory deemed all medical marijuana businesses as critical parts of their health-care sector and exempt from mandatory business closures.
Rhode Island: The governor’s stay-at-home order includes “compassion centers” – which is the state’s terminology for MMJ dispensaries – as “critical retail,” indicating Rhode Island’s three dispensaries can remain operational.
Vermont: The medical marijuana industry was deemed “essential,” and dispensaries – which are considered pharmacies by state regulators – will be allowed to remain open during the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order, the state’s Department of Financial Regulation confirmed.
Washington DC: The District of Columbia’s mayor, who issued a stay-at-home order on March 30, included “medical marijuana dispensaries” last week in a list of “essential” businesses that could continue operations.
Washington State: The governor’s stay-at-home order includes an appendix that identifies cannabis retailers and workers supporting the supply chain as “essential.” Additionally, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board issued an order allowing retailers to continue sales through curbside pickups. The board also clarified in a news release Tuesday that all licensed marijuana businesses can continue operations and that retailers will be allowed to sell to both medical and rec customers.
John Schroyer can be reached at email@example.com
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