Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Keep shopping.
During times of crisis, we often ask ourselves what we can do to help. The coronavirus pandemic has already caused immense strife for so many families, both in terms of the number of sick and the impact on the economy. Cannabis companies have found themselves at the front lines, with many states declaring dispensaries to be “essential businesses.” This is mostly due to the fact that the plant is a medicine for many people.
For those of you wondering how you can continue to support the cannabis industry amid the chaos, here are a few ideas.
Shop efficiently and safely
The way we live on the day-to-day has been rocked by the current pandemic as social distancing has become the norm. This has led to a major increase in delivery and to-go ordering, and the cannabis industry is no different. Protect yourself and others when you buy cannabis by opting for delivery if it’s an option where you live, using digital payment methods when possible in order to lessen contact with currency (this helps the drivers as well).
- If you must visit the dispensary, remember to maintain space between yourself and others (6 feet is recommended by the CDC).
- Do not hoard products, leave enough for everyone.
- Make a list before you go in order to speed up the process as there will probably be many people waiting.
- Wash your hands or use sanitizer before and after your visit, as precaution.
Continue to purchase products even if shipping is delayed
Not all cannabis companies offer their wares in brick-and-mortar retail locations. Many hemp-based CBD brands and accessory makers rely on online sales. The coronavirus has caused a serious shipping lag across the board, which may make people wait to buy their regular shipment of hemp tea or a new electric dab rig. And while you have to wonder when or if your goodies will arrive, the businesses behind them are even more anxious as sales decline.
In an effort to sweeten the pot, and ensure revenue keeps rolling in, some companies are offering huge discounts and deals if folks buy now–with the understanding that shipping could be delayed.
Canlock, whose namesake stash jar features a vacuum pump in the lid, is one such example. Their “CanLockdown” buy two, get one free promotion is a tongue-in-cheek reference to both the self-quarantining we’re all experiencing and the brand’s own supply chain issues.
“We’re a Southern California company and we’ve essentially been grounded by this pandemic, like many others,” said Canlock co-founder Brandon Rea. “We are committed to continue serving the community with our preservation solution. As a small business, Canlock is trying to offer the most value we can during these trying times.”
Engage with the community, from afar
We may all be stuck at home for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay engaged. Live streams, video calling, and social media groups are keeping folks together even while we are apart.
Lelehnia Du Bois, a community leader in Humboldt, California and the founder of “Humboldt Grace: a Cannabis Community Gathering Place,” a popular industry Facebook group, took things one step further by creating an online portal for people wishing to solicit or offer donations, whether they be medical supplies, cash, gift cards, or CBD. Dubbed “COVID-19: To Give and Receive,” the project is an extension of Du Bois’s personal mission to keep her circle strong.
“When this crisis started, I tried to think of the easiest way to keep people going,” explained Du Bois. “I have a higher risk of infection and have been isolating myself for a while now. I knew the only way I was going to be okay was if my industry was okay. Connecting dots for people seems like the best way, as I have so many resources to share anyway.”
While the majority of the conscious collective is hyper focused on the COVID-19 saga, it’s important to keep in mind the policy reform work that continues day after day. For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to continue his push for legalizing adult-use cannabis in spite of the coronavirus shutdown. In fact, many analysts argue federal legalization could help jump-start an economy that’s taken a pummeling due to the pandemic.
In states where cannabis has been legalized for medical and/or adult-use, there have been varied responses to whether or not dispensaries should remain open with many leaders declaring dispensaries “essential businesses.” Some states where delivery was previously prohibited have passed emergency ordinances allowing retailers to offer the service during stay-at-home orders. However, not every state has taken this type of action.
Furthermore, the United States federal government has (at this point) deemed cannabis businesses, both plant-touching and ancillary, ineligible for funds appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is due to the fact that cannabis remains a schedule 1 drug and is illegal at the federal level. On April 13th, the International Cannabis Bar Association (INCBA) sent a letter to congressional leaders imploring them to reconsider this position, especially for companies designated as “Indirect Marijuana Businesses,” as they simply provide services to producers and dispensaries.
“These are tax-paying entities,” argued Jim Marty, CEO of BridgeWest, a Colorado-based cannabis CPA firm, stating while most of his clients may not qualify for disaster loans put forth by the Small Business Association, they may be able to defer certain payroll taxes. His firm recently co-hosted a webinar to help educate clients about their options during these difficult times.
There is no time like the present to contact your legislators regarding safe and legal access to cannabis, and for these “essential” businesses to be incorporated into stimulus packages geared toward preserving the economy.
This too shall pass
In closing, the team at SWEET JANE want to remind you to keep safe and stay positive during this challenging period. Remember that in time, this too shall pass. Until then, keep washing those hands and sparking those j’s.
Photography from top: Curology via Unslpash (edited), Cluadio Schwarz via Unsplash
Rachelle Gordon is a writer focusing on the cannabis industry. She has been featured in High Times, Cannabis Now Magazine, and the inaugural issue of SWEET JANE. Rachelle’s favorite strains include Tangie and GMO. Find out more about her at www.rachellegordon.net.