Several Massachusetts recreational marijuana businesses that were ordered closed during a stay-at-home order issued in response to the spreading coronavirus pandemic are now manufacturing hand sanitizer to be used by local health care workers.
Under the order issued by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, medical marijuana dispensaries were permitted to continue operating but retailers selling recreational marijuana were instructed to close. Retailers selling both medicinal and recreational cannabis were instructed to serve patients only. That led members of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association to come together to produce hand sanitizer during the closure, which is scheduled to last for two weeks.
The companies have received the approval of the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) and Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to produce the hand sanitizer, which is in short supply because of the coronavirus outbreak. The hand sanitizer will be produced through a partnership with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association and then offered to local health care facilities at cost.
“The CDA would like to thank Governor Baker, DPH and the CCC for empowering the cannabis industry to directly support those on the front lines of this pandemic by producing critical supplies,” said David Torrisi, the president of the trade group.
“When John Hillier, who’s on the CDA Board, brought the feasibility of producing hand sanitizer to our attention, members jumped at the opportunity to partner with MHA to make this happen,” he added. “I am incredibly proud of members who are allocating time and resources to produce hand sanitizer, at cost, to help clinicians in the fight against COVID-19.”
5,000 Gallons Of Hand Sanitizer Per Week
The group of about a dozen dispensaries estimates that together they will be able to produce about 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week. The CDA said the process is “not overly sophisticated,” but “the materials involved are expensive.” The hand sanitizer will be manufactured in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization.
After the MHA identified the need for hand sanitizer at hospitals, it “spearheaded a convening between CDA and directors of pharmacy from hospitals and health systems across the state to create protocols, standard operating procedures and to assist with production knowledge.”
The dispensaries producing hand sanitizer will package it in 5-gallon bottles before delivering it to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. From there, the hand sanitizer will be distributed to hospitals in the state.
The cannabis businesses involved in the hand sanitizer manufacturing effort include Revolutionary Clinics, INSA, Central Ave Compassionate Care, Inc., SIRA Naturals, New England Treatment Access, Theory Wellness, Garden Remedies, Triple M, Alternative Therapies Group, Inc., Berkshire Roots, Cultivate, NorthEast Alternatives, Patriot Care, and Mass Wellspring.