This is a tricky situation, but one that is already being addressed across many states.
In Colorado, a directive has been issued to this effect; marijuana businesses are to remain open because they provide essential services. Marijuana dispensaries are also exempted from the 50% staff cut that has affected non-essential businesses. This measure is to safeguard the safety of the people through the implementation of the social distancing safety measure.
The first coronavirus case was reported in China’s Wuhan City in late December 2019. As of this date, there have been 395,753 reported cases of coronavirus globally. In Colorado, the first two cases were reported on March 5th, 2020. As of today, 720 cases have been reported with nine deaths related to coronavirus.
What is Coronavirus?
The Novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is an infectious disease of the respiratory system that is highly contagious and fatal in some cases. It causes flu-like symptoms such as cough, running nose, high fevers, and breathing difficulties in severe cases.
Marijuana Dispensaries Response to Coronavirus in Colorado
With the rising number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Colorado, marijuana businesses are being forced to make critical decisions on how to adapt their businesses to this pandemic.
Every marijuana business is being forced to answer these three questions?
- Should we remain open or should we take precautionary measures and close down?
- If we remain open, how can we protect our staff and customers from getting exposed to this virus?
- Should we close our physical storefronts, how can we continue to avail our services to our customers?
The Governor of Colorado Jared Polis has ordered businesses to halve their in-person workforce to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the state. He has also implored the citizens to go out less frequently unless in dire situations such as the need to seek emergency medical help.
These measures are meant to curtail person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus and stall the pandemic. Polis observed that a failed public health response had contributed to an increased burden of disease at a federal level.
The current situation in the state of Colorado is under control. However, the state lacks sufficient hospital beds and ventilators to support an outbreak should these public health measures fail to work. Should this happen, the state will be forced to adapt to a wartime triage situation where some patients will be saved at the expense of the rest.
Marijuana Dispensaries Can Remain Open in Colorado
However, they will have to take precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The first step is to ensure social distancing in the dispensary. The dispensary staffs are required to maintain a distance of at least 1.5meters between each other. For some dispensaries, this may mean reducing their staff.
Social distancing also applies to marijuana customers walking through the dispensary door. The Gov. has ordered that in-person marijuana sales be restricted to medicinal sales only. Adult-use marijuana purchases are limited to online orders. This order takes effect on Tuesday 24th March until April 11th, unless otherwise.
The counties are allowed to set their own rules regarding in-person purchases during the pandemic period. Where there is the conflict between state and county laws, the stricter law applies.
What Happens if Marijuana Dispensaries Close?
In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock had earlier on directed that indoor adult-use marijuana sales be halted until April 11th. However, the Mayor later rescinded on this decision and allowed adult-use marijuana sales for as long as the social distancing protocol is observed.
If marijuana dispensaries opt to close their doors to the public in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, patients will be forced to order their medicine online. Considering the trend that has been observed so far, it is highly unlikely that marijuana sales will decline during the period of this pandemic. States such as California, Washington, and Colorado have witnessed binge buying since the beginning of the pandemic. Marijuana dispensaries that choose to close their doors will need to ensure that they execute seamless ordering and delivery systems to meet the increasing demand for marijuana products.
What Happens Should Marijuana Dispensaries Remain Open?
Marijuana businesses need to keep serving their clientele during this period of the coronavirus pandemic. Medical marijuana patients still need their medicine while recreational users may need relief from the heightened anxiety that comes with this pandemic. This is what makes this industry critical at such a time.
However, marijuana businesses will need to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their staff while they attend to customers. Healthcare workers have not been exempted from this pandemic. Two of the people who have tested positive for this virus in Colorado include a worker at a Health and Rehab Facility in Loveland and health care worker in her 60s at the Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson.
Should marijuana dispensaries remain open in Colorado they will need to limit the person to person contact within the dispensaries. Dispensaries will need to limit the number of people in the dispensary at any given time. Customers with weak immunity need to be encouraged to stay at home and have their orders delivered to their doorstep.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has issued directives on how to protect yourself from COVID-19. The following steps are essential:
-Wash your hands frequently
– Avoid touching your face with your hands
– Maintain social distancing
– Don’t cough directly into the atmosphere, use a handkerchief or your elbow
– Seek early medical care if you experience of the related symptoms
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