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As the World faces a pandemic of COVID-19, cannabis will remain available. Amidst the fallout from social distancing and self-isolation protocols, licensed cannabis dispensaries in different jurisdictions will remain open and serving patients.

Cannabis is vital to the health of the people.

“I think we have to be very conscious of that fact and be aware that if that substance, that provision, is no longer available, that that would lead to pretty significant health consequences.”

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa

Provinces are making cannabis an “essential service” during the pandemic

By Peter Smith

All across the country, a new type of policy is being enacted on multiple levels of government — a state of emergency. The minutia of the legislation may differ slightly between municipalities and provinces, but it’s seeing leaders of all stripes shutting down the “non-essential” industries and businesses to combat the spread of COVID-19.

While all agree that grocery stores and emergency services are required to keep the masses fed and cared for, a few unsuspecting sectors of the economy have been placed on lists of services vital to Canadians getting through the coronavirus pandemic, including cannabis.

Among others, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia have declared provincial states of emergency, while Quebec has chosen, at time of writing, to stop short of the title while still enacting emergency measures.

Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency.

On a more local level, municipalities are following suit. Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary have all declared city-wide states of emergency.

Entire industries have ground to a halt — tourism, hospitality, and public events are all paused — yet, while so many businesses have been told to shutter, cannabis has appeared alongside other products deemed “essential.”

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced the special measures his province would be entering into on Tuesday.

essential service
Marked physical distancing lineup outside Canvas Cannabis in Toronto (Daily Hive

Marked physical distancing lineup outside Canvas Cannabis in Toronto (Daily Hive)

“This is a decision that was not made lightly,” said Ford. “We are facing an unprecedented time in our history.”

However, among a list of “essential” businesses, just after retail and wholesalers who provide bedding, food, and shelter to animals, and just before petrol stations, sits the provision classifying alcohol as well as “cannabis stores and cannabis producers.”

Province of Ontario

Province of Ontario

This also comes after Canopy Growth announced it would be closing all of its corporate-owned retail stores across the country and a noted spike among some of Canada’s cannabis retailers, both attributed to coronavirus.

Quebec echoed its westward neighbour the day before. While not declaring a state of emergency, they did order all non-essential businesses to close. With exceptions being given to a number of businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and, of course, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQs) and Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDCs) — the provinces public booze and cannabis retailers.

New Brunswick is the only other province, so far, to order the closure. Its legislation also makes exceptions for both NB Liquor and Cannabis NB.

As of yet, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, BC, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Alberta have not chosen to shutter non-essential businesses in their communities, leaving it to be seen if cannabis is officially a necessity for all of Canada.

With files from Clarrie Feinstein and Tyler Jadah.

Article source Daily Hive

COVID-19 Pandemic Sees Cannabis Sales Spike | NowThis

Marijuana dispensaries in some states deemed an “essential service” during coronavirus lockdowns

BY CAITLIN O’KANE

Being deemed “non-essential” during the coronavirus outbreak has forced businesses across the country to shut their doors. One industry managing to survive lockdowns and stay-at-home orders: Marijuana dispensaries, which are considered an essential service in many states.

In California, where recreational weed is legal, cannabis has been deemed an essential medicine for residents, and dispensary operators are allowed to stay open provided they adopt social distancing rules, according to the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. 

In New Jersey, it’s become even easier to get medical marijuana during the coronavirus outbreak. The New Jersey Department of Health said it would improve patients’ access to medical marijuana by allowing dispensaries to offer curbside pickup. 

In Colorado, the first state to legalize medical marijuana, regulators issued an emergency rule adoption to allow online and phone orders and curbside pickup. 

Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon have similarly loosened restrictions. And in New Hampshire, regulators are allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana via telehealth. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York and Washington have also deemed medical marijuana dispensaries essential. 

But during an outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease, are they?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, marijuana can have many therapeutic benefits for cancer patients and people with multiple sclerosis. Cannabis-based products may help prevent and ease nausea caused by chemotherapy and help muscle spasms in adults with multiple sclerosis. But the CDC also says there are some health effects that could come from using the drug.

David Knowlton, who owns a marijuana cultivation facility with an attached dispensary in New Jersey, said he was at first worried he wouldn’t be able to operate during the coronavirus outbreak. “This was clearly uncharted territory,” Knowlton told CBS News via email. “However, Gov. Murphy wisely recognized that we are providing needed medication to tens of thousands of New Jerseyans.”

Knowlton said he was not shocked that his business was deemed one of the essential ones. “Access to medical cannabis is as important as access to any other needed medication,” he said, adding that in his state, a patient must have an approved condition to get medical marijuana. “There is nothing in the current crisis that would mitigate that need or the appropriateness of that use,” he said. 

His customers use medical marijuana for a variety of reasons – from post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety to Crohn’s disease, cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

“Yes, these diseases might become exacerbated at times of high anxiety or crisis but even in a calm state, our patients need access to their medical cannabis to mitigate the symptoms,” he said. “Cannabis is an important, symptom-mitigating medication. Our patients would be seriously compromised without it.”

Knowlton added that his dispensary has remained busy “partly because the uncertainty and stress of these times and partly because there have been some long lines and some product shortages elsewhere that have put some pressure on our dispensary.”

His shop has implemented social distancing and customers are asked to take a number, like at a deli, he said. “People are now waiting in their car until their number comes up and then entering the dispensary one at a time,” Knowlton told CBS News.

First published on March 25, 2020 / 3:42 PM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Article source CBS News

LCBO and cannabis shops deemed essential during COVID-19 pandemic

By Tyler Fleming – CTVNewsOttawa.ca Reporter

OTTAWA — The Ontario Government has deemed the LCBO, the Beer Store, and cannabis shops an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some are questioning whether they should still be open.

“We heard from mental health and addiction (experts) that it’s absolutely critical to keep that open,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford earlier this week. “There are people out there with addictions and we’re here to support them.”

Ottawa Inner-City Health supervisor Anne Marie Hopkins agrees that the LCBO and pot shops should remain open.  She points to the problem of addiction, and believes there is a hidden problem in the city.

“There are people who need alcohol or cannabis to get through their everyday life,” said Hopkins. “When you cut someone off of alcohol who’s struggling with alcoholism you head into some very serious medical issues that can come up.”

At Superette cannabis shop on Wellington Street, it’s business almost as usual.  The store has setup markers on the ground and limits the number of people in the store at one time. Employees are wearing gloves and hand sanitizer is available for each customer.

Luigi Vallaqa is waiting in line, six feet from the customer in front of him. For Vallaqa, this is a ‘treat’ but understand that people do have addictions and it’s useful for stores like this to remain open. 

“People can have a lot of pain,” he says. “And for medical purposes why not.”

Superette CEO Mimi Lam knows that while some do use cannabis recreationally, for others it can be for their wellbeing and she wants to be able to provide a safe, legal supply.

“Coping mechanisms are very essential to some people,” she says. “We know that cannabis can be helpful in that regard, for either this situation or just in general … So to be able to provide safe legal access during this time is important to us.”

The LCBO has also taken measures to protect its staff and customers, by limiting people who enter the outlets, as well as shortening operating hours to allow more time to sanitize stores.

Article source CTV News


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