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NETA laying off employees due to rec shutdown

“Governor Baker’s decision to halt the sale of adult-use cannabis has resulted in the unintended consequences of restricting important access for customers who rely on cannabis for their well-being and the loss of jobs for many hard working employees in our industry,” said a statement from Amanda Rositano, the president of NETA.

NETA has seen a drop of about 85% in store traffic without recreational sales and because of changes to its business model to allow for social distancing and other measures, Rositano said.

“Given this situation, we have no alternative than to make the extremely difficult decision to reduce our valued workforce to adjust to this new normal, as well as place a number of our employees on furloughs until the Governor lifts his order against adult-use sales,” the statement said.

The statement did not specify how many employees would be placed on furlough. Adult-use sales are stopped until at least May 4.

Members of the marijuana industry have called for Baker to reverse his decision. A group of recreational stores sued the governor this week, arguing that many people who use marijuana as medicine are not registered with the state’s medical program.

“Adult use cannabis is an important therapy for many customers who cannot be on a state registry for a federally illegal product and can help reduce the burden on the public health system for those suffering from pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and other debilitating conditions – at a time when it is needed the most,” the statement read. “Allowing adult use access to only Massachusetts residents while abiding by the comprehensive store safety protocols that are already in place, would benefit many individuals who cannot afford medical registration fees, veterans who cannot be on the registry, as well as others who rely on state-tested alternatives to opioids and cannot navigate the regulatory process.”

Rositano’s statement said NETA has had conversations with Baker and his staff to reiterate that marijuana companies can ensure public safety while meeting the health needs of the community, and therefore preserve jobs. She cautioned that the consequence of no adult-use sales could mean more people turning to the illicit market.