Mass. recreational pot shop owners taking fight to stay open during pandemic to court

BOSTON (WHDH) - Some recreational pot shop owners are taking the fight to stay open during the pandemic to court, filing a lawsuit against the Commonwealth claiming that they are an essential business.

Veteran advocate, plaintiff, and medical marijuana patient Stephan Mandile claimed in the suit that if liquor stores and medical marijuana dispensaries are considered essential — recreational stores should be too.

“They can do great at the social distancing practices, they can do effective things like curbside takeaway, and even delivery as well,” Mandile said. “The argument that they don’t want out of state people coming into the state, they can regulate it so that you have to have a Massachusetts ID or you’ll be turned away, and you turn into the parking lot with a vehicle with out of state plates, you can be denied access as well. So there’s, you know, requirements they can make and put into effect that will not break any laws or affect anyone’s rights.”

Mandile is in the process of opening his own dispensary and said that many people feel stigmatized when they become a medical marijuana patient.

“A lot of people like to access it and use it instead of other, more harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, opioids,” he said. “They are affected by the stigma of all that.

7NEWS spoke with Governor Baker Wednesday and he made his position clear.

“Making those sites available to anybody from the Northeast would cut completely against the entire strategy we’re trying to pursue here in Massachusetts to keep people safe and that’s why they are not an essential business,” he said.

When questioned about adding a residency requirement, Baker added: “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 and I really would hope the people in Massachusetts would focus on that too.”

All non-essential businesses are required to remain closed until at least May 4.

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