The Recorder – How are pot shops affected by COVID-19 pandemic?

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Published: 4/6/2020 4:20:14 PM

One of the county’s two marijuana dispensaries is temporarily closed while the other is still buzzing following the governor’s order for non-essential businesses to close until further notice to curb the spread of COVID-19.

253 Farmacy in Turners Falls sells only recreational marijuana while Patriot Care in Greenfield deals in medical and non-medical. Medical marijuana is deemed an essential business but recreational did not make the cut.

“Thank you to our incredible staff and customers for your patience and understanding at this time,” reads a message on the home page of 253 Farmacy’s website. “Stay safe, self-aware and healthy!”

David Catanzano, director of operations for Patriot Care in Massachusetts, said the facility at 7 Legion Ave. has shut down recreational sales to comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s orders, but medical sales remain strong.

“We want to serve the people of Massachusetts. We believe in serving our community,” he said. “We want to make sure people have access to their medicine in a compliant, clean and organized environment.”

Catanzano said Patriot Care operates the Greenfield dispensary, as well as one in Boston, one in Lowell and a cultivation center in that same city. He said foot traffic inside the dispensaries has been intentionally limited and people are asked to stand 6 feet apart from one another. He also said the facilities are sanitized frequently.

“Our community is extremely understanding,” Catanzano said. “They’re smart people.”

Catanzano said Patriot Care has been in contact with the governor’s office in an attempt to create a pathway to persuade the governor to include recreational marijuana as essential, citing the positive effects it can have on military veterans and people with anxiety and eating disorders.

“It pulls at your heartstrings knowing that medicine is not available right now,” he said.

According to information from Patriot Care, recent data indicates 9.7 percent of the state’s veteran population resides in Franklin County; only Barnstable County has a higher percentage. Greenfield is also a Purple Heart community and reportedly has the highest percentage of veterans per capita than any other jurisdiction in Massachusetts.

Additionally, Catanzano said Patriot Care is working with other members of the Cannabis Dispensary Association of Massachusetts to gather materials to produce 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to be donated to first responders and hospitals.

“We’re all in this together,” he said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.





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