Grow, Gift, Repair

Massachusetts pot shops reopen to long lines, high demand after coronavirus closures

Patino and the dozens of customers in line behind him waited for as long as two hours to be served by Pure Oasis staff as people flocked to the store for flower, edibles, vapes and other marijuana-infused products. The other Boston-area recreational pot shop, New England Treatment Access in Brookline, doesn’t reopen until Tuesday.

No in-store sales will be allowed until Phase 2 of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-phased reopening plan and the restrictions mean pot shops have to restrict customers in order to keep up with demand.

The earliest Phase 2 will begin is June 8, but the governor has repeatedly said business reopenings will depend on key health metrics the state is using to monitor the coronavirus response.

Strict online ordering requirements, however, didn’t deter people from showing up at Pure Oasis anyway on Monday.

NETA President Amanda Rositano said the restrictions mean her Brookline store will only be able to serve about 500 customers a day — 20% of the typical 2,500 customers it serves.

“It’s been tough to stay on our feet but we have gotten by and this is a good change to be able to reintroduce adult-use — albeit in a reduced way,” Rositano said, estimating NETA lost 85 to 90% of its revenue when adult-use shops closed.

Pro-pot advocate Jim Borghesani said the pot retailers are “harder hit” by coronavirus shutdowns than other businesses.

“They had the rug pulled out under them unlike any other state in the nation and that is a very difficult thing for the industry. We’re hoping that curbside service will help them stay afloat and that we’ll be back into full retail operations soon.”

Recreational marijuana supports 8,000 jobs and has raised $120 million in state and local tax revenue since the first retail pot shops open in 2018.

Baker’s controversial decision not the allow cannabis retailers to continue sales has drawn backlash — including lawsuits — from the budding industry.