Cannabis enthusiasts and medical marijuana patients across a number of US cities and states can sleep calmer now, knowing that cannabis businesses have been officially declared as “essential services,” meaning that even under a coronavirus pandemic lockdown, they will be able to keep their doors open.
As more and more cities are going under lockdown, officials in San Francisco, California, have announced that cannabis dispensaries are part of the essential services that will continue to provide for the city’s inhabitants.
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Under San Francisco’s “shelter-in-place” policy, anyone not working for or providing an “essential service” necessary to society must remain indoors to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Essential services include healthcare, public utilities, emergency response, and now also cannabis dispensaries.
“In terms of the cannabis dispensaries, the Department of Public Health today clarified that since cannabis has medical uses, dispensaries will be allowed to operate as essential businesses, just as pharmacies are allowed to do,” San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed said in a press conference.
Some limitations do apply to businesses staying open, however. Employees and customers must practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
That means anyone inside a dispensary must keep a distance of at least six feet from others and use hand sanitizer where available.
On Wednesday, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that shut all non-essential services.
A representative from Cuomo’s office clarified to NPR that New York’s licensed medical marijuana dispensaries “are essential medical providers.”
That same day, Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak also ordered all non-essential services to close their doors, while dispensaries can remain open if their owners want to.
“Employees have been asked to prioritize their health and the health of the community and to remain home if they show or feel any signs of illness,” a statement from The Source dispensary read, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
“Customers will no longer be able to take part in smelling flower before purchasing, as the flower displays are no longer available to prevent the spread of germs.”
Other states such as Colorado, Michigan, and Illinois have also implemented emergency rules allowing dispensaries to continue selling cannabis while at the same time minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Public life has come to a standstill in many parts of the world as health officials attempt to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.
That means that many non-essential services, such as movie theaters, concert halls, and other entertainment venues had to be shut. Countless concerts and conventions were also canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a state with a legal cannabis program, you will likely still be able to buy supplies even after more lockdowns go into effect.
And if you don’t, now might be a good time to start thinking about growing your own weed.