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These States Classify Cannabis Businesses "Essential" During COVID-19

 Recreational Cannabis Businesses Operate During the COVID-19 Lockdown

As news of the coronavirus grew last week, 23 U.S. states issued strict “stay-at-home” orders. Medical and recreational cannabis sales are still permitted in most of those states, but some orders are unclear. As COVID-19 worsens, will the recreational cannabis industry stay open?

(Note: This blog was updated on March 27, 2020 to include updated information.)

Of the 23 states with mandatory stay-at-home orders, 20 of them allow for the sale and manufacturing of cannabis-related products. But of those 20 states, only 7 of them with recreational marijuana business have been deemed essential.

Unfortunately, that leaves some recreational cannabis businesses unsure about their future during the stay-at-home mandate.

Marijuana Businesses and COVID-19 by the Numbers

We know for certain which states with legal marijuana businesses are being affected by stay-at-home orders. We also know that American COVID-19 statistics are increasing by the hour. The only things we’re uncertain of are which states will issue a stay-at-home order next, and if it will affect their legal marijuana businesses.


These States Classify Cannabis Businesses "Essential" During COVID-19


Which of the remaining states with legal marijuana businesses will be next to mandate stay-at-home orders, and will those states allow them to remain operable?

State-by-State Decisions

While news from each state’s government seems to be evolving each day, this is how recreational cannabis businesses are being affected by their state’s stay-at-home order. (This list will update as new information develops.)

Medical and Recreational Marijuana Businesses

  • California. On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom was the first U.S. governor to set a mandatory stay-at-home restriction. His executive order allowed all licensed medical and recreational marijuana companies to operate.
  • Colorado [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. Jared Polis issued a stay-at-home order beginning March 26 which will last through April 11. According to his executive order, both medical and recreational marijuana retailers can operate, but recreational dispensaries must implement curbside pickups. Medical dispensaries are allowed to keep their doors open.
  • Illinois. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order began on March 21 and lasts through April 7. According to his order, medical and recreational state-licensed marijuana dispensaries and growers are essential and will continue to be allowed to operate.
  • Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 24 and will last for three weeks. While the order didn’t mention the fate of the marijuana industry, the state later issued an additional press release which allows for all licensed medical and recreational cannabis businesses to stay open. However, retailers must implement “curbside service or delivery.”
  • Nevada. Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order allows for all non-essential businesses to close for 30 days, including medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries and storefronts, although deliveries will be allowed.
  • Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown’s executive stay-at-home order was unclear, but Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission issued a press release that allows all licensed cannabis retailers to provide curbside pickups if customers pre-order first.
  • Washington. On March 23, Gov. Jay Inslee issued his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, requiring residents to stay home for two weeks. All marijuana retailers and people directly in the industry are considered essential.

Medical Only

  • Connecticut. On March 24, Connecticut’s “Stay Safe, Stay at home” policy went into effect. Under Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order, the medical marijuana industry falls under the state’s healthcare sector. They are allowed to operate.
  • Delaware [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. John Carney issued a statewide stay-at-home order that will remain until May 15, or until the “public health threat is eliminated.” Medical marijuana dispensaries will allow to stay open during the lockdown.
  • Hawaii. Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order for Hawaii residents which will start on March 25 and will last through at least April 30. Gov. Ige’s order names licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivators as essential businesses.
  • Louisiana [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order to help slow the coronavirus spread. His order allows healthcare-related businesses to operate, including medical marijuana retailers.
  • Massachusetts. On March 24, Gov. Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home order became effective until April 7. According to the order, the state’s “licensed medical marijuana retailers” are essential, but recreational marijuana businesses must cease operation.
  • Minnesota [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. Tim Walz ordered Minnesota residents to stay at home starting 11:59pm on March 27 until April 10. During that time, medical cannabis businesses are allowed to stay open.
  • Montana [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home order begin on March 28 with no set end date. His executive order deems all medical marijuana businesses to stay open throughout the lockdown.
  • New Jersey. Phil Murphy issued a stay-at-home order which went into effect on March 21. Murphy’s order classifies medical marijuana dispensaries as essential.
  • New Mexico. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order began on March 24. New Mexico’s Department of Health classifies medical marijuana businesses as an essential part of the healthcare sector.
  • New York. On March 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order instructed all workers in nonessential businesses to stay at home. The state’s Department of Health later released documentation that allowed medical marijuana companies to operate.
  • Ohio.  Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order went into effect March 23 until at least April 6. DeWine’s order classifies licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and growers as essential businesses.
  • Oklahoma [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a “safer-at-home” order which will last until April 30. Until that date, all medical cannabis businesses are permitted to remain open.
  • Vermont [Updated: 3/27 6pm PST]. Gov. Phil Scott issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order which will extent to April 15. All medical cannabis businesses are permitted to stay open until then.

    This blog will be updated as we get additional information from each state.

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