Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has not joined other states to deem recreational marijuana businesses as essential amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, for that reason, Baker has a lawsuit on his hands.

The Associated Press reported that a group of cannabis dispensaries in the Bay State sued Baker in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in which they asked “the court to allow recreational pot shops to reopen, saying the closure will cause serious harm to the industry.”

Baker reiterated on Wednesday that his decision is an effort to curb the cannabis tourism in the state, which could exacerbate the coronavirus outbreak.

“Significant numbers of the customers who procure cannabis at recreational marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts are not from Massachusetts,” Baker said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “Making those sites available to anybody from the northeast would cut completely against the entire strategy we’re trying to pursue.”

Ellen Rosenfeld, a co-owner of CommCan, one of the cannabis businesses to file the lawsuit against Baker, argued that the Republican governor is hyping the problem.

“There’s no industry more regulated than the marijuana industry. None. Not the liquor industry, not the banking industry,” Rosenfeld told MassLive.

“The potential that the coronavirus is going to pour into the borders through adult-use dispensaries, I think he’s catastrophizing it.”

Baker deemed medical marijuana businesses essential last month, allowing them to stay open at a time when many other establishments were forced under a sweeping order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But that did not extend to the recreational pot shops that were made legal by a statewide vote in 2016. Industry leaders and marijuana advocates have echoed Rosenfeld’s complaints, noting that liquor stores have been allowed to remain open during the pandemic. 

States such as Michigan and California have allowed recreational and medical marijuana businesses to remain open during the pandemic, deeming them essential.

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