Due to virus, sales are down, and regulatory issues cited as well.
A medical marijuana dispensary that opened in North Dakota's largest city a year ago was shut down Friday because of slow sales and regulatory delays due to the coronavirus, the facility's operators said in a statement.
New York-based Acreage Holdings said it's temporarily closing The Botanist in Fargo and one of its dispensaries in Maryland because of the "significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors that have greatly shifted the cannabis landscape."
In addition to the closures, the company said it has furloughed 122 employees and closed wholesale operations in Iowa and form factory operations in California, Oregon and Washington. It also converted its dispensary in Queens, New York, to a delivery hub, the release said.
"Although we are facing difficult times, I remain optimistic about the U.S. cannabis industry and Acreage in particular," company chairman and CEO Kevin Murphy said in a statement. He said Acreage Holdings made other moves meant to strengthen the company.
The state Medical Marijuana Division Director was informed about the move about 20 minutes before the Fargo dispensary was set to open Friday. Jason Wahl, the division director, said the late notice was unfortunate, but it was handled solely by the dispensary.
No employees at the Fargo facility have tested positive for COVID-19, Wahl said. There are fewer than 15 people who work there, he said.
"Obviously it impacts patients in a negative manner," Wahl said. "We are disappointed."
The Botanist, which opened on March 1, 2019, is one of eight dispensaries in the state. The closest operations to Fargo are in Grand Forks, 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north, and Jamestown, 100 miles (160.93 kilometers) east.
North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana in November 2016. Rilie Ray Morgan, of Fargo. a financial adviser who led the citizen initiative, said Friday he understands the "abundance of caution" associated with COVID-19 but was "surprised and disappointed" by Friday's move.
"It's not like people can stock up. You can only buy so much in a certain time frame," Morgan said. "It's going to be a major inconvenience for people. I am just wondering if this will be permanent. That's kind of the scary part."