It's turning into a ghost town out there, and you've likely gone to ground avoiding contact with the new novel coronavirus. The good news is you still have access to cannabis and there seems to be no shortage in sight. Phew.
Last week we talked about the possibility of facing medical cannabis shortages as public health measures in New Mexico continue to become more stringent. Some of the state's licensed producers were attempting to fan the flames of panic and pointed out that if everybody bought a month's worth of cannabis at once, we'd likely go dry.
Luckily, New Mexicans have been smart enough not to lose their minds and blow out the state's supply (if only the toilet paper hoarders were as conscientious as the weed smokers). But COVID-19 is still changing the way we consume cannabis.
For one thing, sharing pipes has become an absolute no-no. According to the state's medical cannabis law, sharing your medical cannabis is already illegal, so we know nobody's doing that. But let's say you've finished smoking, you've thoroughly emptied the bowl … Is it okay to then pass it to your neighbor (to fill with their own medical cannabis, of course) so they can then use it? We're not super-sure about the legality of it, but as far as communicable disease protocol, it's absolutely a no-no!
For those of us who are used to at least hanging out with fellow patients in close quarters to share company as we smoke: Rolling Stone recommends using social media and telecommunication apps to stay connected while maintaining a safe distance, instead.
And if you're used to going into a dispensary and jawing the 'tender's ear off and being all social and friendly, you're in for some changes.
As of this writing, most dispensaries in Albuquerque are continuing to operate normally—although most are encouraging patients to call in their orders before visiting and to take advantage of curbside service to practice social distancing.
But Urban Wellness, Southwest Organic Producers and Sacred Garden have closed their lobbies and are serving customers who line up outside the door. Grassroots RX is offering curbside service only. Southwest Wellness will only be taking two patients at a time and will be serving these customers through the window.
These policies will likely change by the time you read this, so make sure to call ahead if you're unsure. The good news is that almost every dispensary in town is offering curbside service if patients ask.
As for cannabis consumers who can't keep their heads, Californians are reportedly stockpiling marijuana alongside toilet paper and face masks. According to KRCW radio in Santa Monica, Calif., cannabis delivery services and dispensaries in California are strained to the limits.
David Downs, the California Bureau Chief for Leafly, told reporters that the state's supply is doing fine and isn't in any danger of being depleted anytime soon. The COVID-19 strain is being felt by industry workers, however, and many dispensaries are reportedly turning customers away due to high demand.
According to Headset, the cannabis markets in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have all seen record sales since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles residents who were worried about being cut off from their supply while much of California goes into lockdown can breathe a sigh of relief. While the state has ordered all “non-essential businesses and areas” to close, the City of Los Angeles has declared cannabis dispensaries “essential businesses,” allowing them to continue operating.
There are over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 cases in California at the time of this writing.
Despite the record-breaking sales reported in all the nation's marijuana hot spots, cannabis industry leaders are reportedly asking the federal government for a bailout.
Marijuana Moment reports that a coalition of marijuana industry trade groups sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate, asking that restrictions that keep cannabis businesses from accessing emergency relief funds be removed. The letter was signed by the National Cannabis Industry Association, National Cannabis Roundtable, Minority Cannabis Business Association, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce and Cannabis Trade Federation.
“Our members follow strict regulations, create jobs, generate billions of dollars in tax revenue … The ineligibility of cannabis businesses for disaster assistance loans is especially inequitable given that these same cannabis businesses are required to comply with other coronavirus-related measures, such as paid sick leave coverage,” the organizations wrote. “We are not seeking special treatment for state-legal cannabis businesses. We only seek to have them treated on an equal level as all other job-generating, tax-paying companies in this country.”
Last week, cannabis lobbyist NORML made an announcement that it was reaching out to lawmakers to ensure that cannabis employees have access to unemployment benefits. The group also said the congressional Families First Coronavirus Response Act would give states the discretion to choose how some relief funds were dispersed among businesses without federal input.
It's unclear if any lawmakers have responded.