Memorial Day Re-Opening for Adult-Use Retail in Massachusetts

Foley Hoag LLP - Cannabis and the Law
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Foley Hoag LLP - Cannabis and the Law

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today that Massachusetts adult-use cannabis retail stores will be allowed to re-open for curbside pickup beginning on Memorial Day.  The announcement was a part of the Governor’s comprehensive plan for re-opening businesses across the Commonwealth, which includes mandatory workplace safety standards, sector-specific protocols, and a phased approach to reopening businesses.

Phase 1 of the Governor’s reopening plan allows retail businesses of all types to conduct curbside pickup beginning on Memorial Day.  In order to reopen, retail businesses (and all other types of businesses) must first develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and post several posters. Required materials are located at www.mass.gov/reopening, and include:

  • A COVID-19 Control Plan. The COVID-19 Control Plan must be retained on the premises of the business and be provided in the event of an inspection. The template is available here.
  • A Compliance Attestation Poster. Businesses are required to sign a poster, attesting that they have completed a COVID-19 control plan, and post it in an area within the business premises visible to employees and visitors. The poster is available here.
  • Employer and Employee Posters. Businesses are required to post signs and posters describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning, and disinfecting.  The employer poster is available here, and the employee poster is available here.

In addition, the reopening plan requires Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards for all workplaces, which are designed to reduce the risk of new COVID-19 transmissions to employees and customers.  Cannabis businesses should consult Foley Hoag’s prior alert as well as the details of the mandatory standards for full information, but they generally include:

  • Specific minimum safety standards as to social distancing (including signage and requiring masks for all employees)
  • Hygiene protocols (handwashing availability and regular sanitation of high touch areas)
  • Staffing and operations (training for employees, prohibiting employees with symptoms from coming to work, and establishing plans for employees who get ill and how they will return to work)
  • Cleaning/disinfecting (establishing protocols and disinfecting common surfaces).

To implement the Governor’s reopening plan, the Commission issued a Final Cease and Desist Order, amending its prior cease and desist order which prohibited adult-use retail stores from operating.  The Final Order also lifts the previous cease and desists order’s restrictions on adult-use cultivation and manufacturing, which limited such operations to essential cultivation activities necessary to maintain current crops and support the medical marijuana supply chain.  Curbside pickup operations will be subject to the Commission’s guidance for medical marijuana stores curbside operations, which may be updated to include additional provisions specific to adult-use operations.

Phase 2 of the reopening plan anticipates that customers will be allowed in retail establishments, with appropriate social distancing and health-safety measures in place.  If COVID-19 in the Commonwealth begin to rise, the Governor may re-institute the stay-at-home order and businesses of all types may be forced to close again.  But for now, adult-use retail looks to be back in business.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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