In a time of worldwide uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic, relaxation and relief can be difficult to come by. Many people have fallen ill, lost considerable income, or are concerned about the future. For cannabis consumers, the urge to achieve a sense of internal balance precedes the rolling of a joint, puffing of a vape or bite of an edible.
Not only is the cannabis industry responsible for over 240,000 jobs nationwide, but it allows an estimated 3 million-plus medical patients to access high quality flower and infused goods. Many of us who feel that cannabis plays a necessary part of our lives were both thrilled and relieved to learn that in the midst of the chaos, dispensaries were deemed “essential,” “critical,” or “life-sustaining” in most U.S. states.
Here’s how it happened:
A memo published on March 28th from Christopher C. Krebs, Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), defined essential business as those who ensure “continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.”
Though CISA provides a list of suggestions on what is considered “Essential Business,” these are merely suggestions. The memo reads, “[Local and State] Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance.” This placed the responsibility of determining what is considered “essential” in the hands of each state’s individual governors.
It quickly became more important than ever to develop delivery and curbside options for cannabis consumers, as keeping a distance from others is understood to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about curbside & express pickup options at Terrapin Care Station’s Colorado locations here.
In a Public Health Order released by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on March 22, he determined that dispensaries are “Critical Retail”. Medical dispensaries were allowed to keep their doors open, while recreational dispensaries were ordered to use curbside options. Polis on March 30 walked back that order, allowing recreational stores to keep their bud rooms and lobbies open, as well.
In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock on March 23 made the mistake of ordering the closure of all marijuana and liquor stores. The order had a reverse effect, as it triggered panic buying with throngs of people violating social-distancing standards to wait in line to stock up. The Denver prohibition lasted only two hours before the mayor saw his administration’s error and reversed course.
In Pennsylvania, (a current medical-only state) governor Tom Wolf on March 20 included medical marijuana companies on a list of “life-sustaining businesses.” This allows medical dispensaries to remain operational during the coronavirus outbreak. However, customers must “remain in their parked vehicle in the parking lot of a licensed provisioning center or adult-use retailer.”
Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency released an Advisory Bulletin dated March 16th that temporarily allows dispensary customers to access previously unavailable services including delivery, and curbside pickup. The state is encouraging customers to take advantage of either option rather than congregate in store.
Many speculators feel that cannabis was deemed essential akin to any other consumer good, such as milk or laundry detergent. Those of us who rely on cannabis for our well-being, happiness or careers are very grateful to have continued access to cannabis. And in doing so, we are doing our part to encourage social distancing. We can control panic buying and instead opt for a reasonable stream of customers to ensure social distancing. With the addition of curbside and online orders, the cannabis industry has led by example in our fight against COVID-19.
Thank you to our Governors for making the decision to support the cannabis industry and consumers!