Well, this is a weird spot we've found ourselves in. The surreal flavor in the air is turning every mundane act of normalcy into an oasis of comfort. The air is thick with nervous anxiety. The streets are quiet. Crime is down. The country is holding its breath.
While the Great Quarantine of 2020 attempts to drain your bank account, threaten your livelihood, cut you off from your community and turn you into a frothing hoarder—it has yet to take away your access to cannabis. There are still some small reliefs—even during the apocalypse.
Near the end of March, the Medical Cannabis Program Director Dr. Dominick Zurlo reportedly wrote a letter to the state's licensed medical cannabis producers assuring them that dispensaries were considered “essential” businesses and were exempt from the recent emergency health order that directed most businesses to shutter their operations. But the order also instructed “essential businesses” to “adhere to social distancing protocol and maintain at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, avoid person-to-person contact and direct employees to wash their hands frequently.”
As we reported last week, many dispensaries have stopped using their lobbies altogether, insisting on phone orders and curbside pickups. But some are still operating with an open lobby. Under current restrictions, this is absolutely permissible—but it might not be the best move, socially speaking.
The number of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico are a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers coming out of New York (67,000) and New Jersey (16,000). If we want to keep it that way, we should be stringently practicing social distancing. For dispensaries, the best practice would probably be to limit services to curbside pickup or through a window.
Here's the thing: This virus has legs, and it isn't safe to keep pretending that it doesn't. Earlier this week, reports surfaced of a Washington church choir that decided to meet and practice prior to the state enacting stringent social distancing orders. According to those who attended, no one showed signs of being ill. But more importantly: No one remembers hearing any coughs or sneezes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, this case and others have alerted health officials to the possibility that COVID-19 can be transmitted through aerosols. The World Health Organization has admitted that aerosols—particles smaller than five micrometers—play a part in spreading the virus, but are quick to point out that “in an analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported.” They've been focusing on transmission through “respiratory droplets,” which are produced through coughs and sneezes.
The possibility of transmission through aerosol makes this a completely different battle. A study published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine found that COVID-19 remained infectious for three hours when dispensed as an aerosol. While this was in strict lab conditions, imagine the conditions of a small dispensary lobby cut off from the fresh air coming in at the front door. These places were designed to trap the delicious aroma of cannabis in a small space. At this moment, that also means they were designed to trap the virus, too.
Now, whether a business decides to close the lobby or not is up to it. As said before, current health orders don't require the dispensaries to close their doors. And in reality, it's not really the dispensaries' responsibility to keep you out of their lobbies. It's your responsibility. Call in orders ahead of time at your favorite dispensary and take advantage of curbside service. From what I can tell, nearly every place in town is offering it.
When it really comes down to it, it's the responsibility of every person reading this to do their part to curb the spread of this disease.
A group of scientists is suing the Drug Enforcement Agency, requesting a “secret” document that they allege proves the agency purposefully delayed licensing growers to produce cannabis for research.
Marijuana Moment reports that the Scottsdale Research Institute filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) complaint to address delays in the process following a 2016 decision to expand cannabis research by allowing more than one producer to grow marijuana specifically for scientific purposes. According to the suit, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel secretly issued a document stating that the new rule could not be acted upon, because it conflicted with international treaty obligations. The SRI is accusing the Justice Department of illegally hiding the document and is demanding the release of any records related to the case. It hopes to shed light on any instructions that might have been provided in relation to the alleged document.
If the allegations are proven true, this could blow the cover off of the forces that have been blocking cannabis research over the last few years.