BOSTON (CBS) – A group of veterans is urging Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to reconsider his decision classifying recreational marijuana shops as non-essential, thus forcing them to close during the coronavirus pandemic.
Veterans Cannabis Project took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe on Wednesday.
“Our veteran community is mobilizing on several fronts to correct this injustice during this most critical time,” said Veterans Cannabis Project executive director Doug Distaso. “Our nation’s heroes deserve better than this. Governor Baker says that he supports our military veterans and we urge him to prove it by helping us now.”
During his press conference on Tuesday, Baker addressed the issue. He called it a “non-starter” and pointed out that medical marijuana facilities have been deemed essential businesses.
“There is tons of evidence that because Massachusetts is one of the few states in the northeast that’s legalized recreational marijuana, that if we make recreational marijuana available as an essential business – remember medical marijuana is available as an essential business – if we make recreational marijuana available we are going to have to deal with the fact that people are going to come here from all over the place across the northeast and create issues with us with respect to the fundamental issue we are trying to solve here, which is to stop the spread,” Baker said. “For that reason and that reason alone, it’s a non-starter for us.”
The Veteran Cannabis Project argues that veterans are often prohibited from obtaining medical marijuana cards because they do not want to jeopardize their veteran status and federal benefits.
“Disabled vets who use cannabis as a treatment option also regularly struggle to obtain the medicine they need,” Distaso wrote. “Our major concern is that our veterans will be pushed to seek treatment from unsafe products on the illicit market.”
The organization launched a website and asked veterans and supporters to contact lawmakers. A petition has received over 13,000 signatures so far.
On Tuesday, Baker extended his stay-at-home advisory, ordering non-essential businesses to remain closed through May 4.