Today is 4/20, a day normally celebrated by weed smokers in the US. Celebrated how, you ask? By partaking in large quantities of the aforementioned drug. Normally, this also includes going to concerts or similar festivals. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that this year. Instead, celebrants are enjoying their preferred recreational drug indoors.
Cannabis dispensaries are in an unusual position in modern America. On the one hand, they’re unable to apply for federal small business loans to handle the COVID-19 pandemic’s hit to their bottom line. They’re illegal at the federal level, after all. They’re only able to operate in some states, while the majority of the US still has the drug outlawed.
On the other hand, in the states where it is legal, marijuana has been deemed much more mainstream. In fact, local governments in most states where the drug is legal deemed dispensaries “essential.” This allowed them to continue operating, albeit in an altered configuration, throughout the pandemic. This gives owners hope that legalized marijuana is being viewed in a more positive light.
Many protestors in states like Colorado used this designation as fuel for their distaste for lockdown orders. Many pointed out how churches were deemed unessential by some localities, while dispensaries were still allowed to operate.
The counter to their argument, however, was that churches were gathering places. Meanwhile, dispensaries have been mandated to switch to curbside pickup or delivery, complying with social distancing guidelines.
In either event, the argument over whether marijuana is really “essential” mirrored similar arguments around the country about liquor stores. Those who oppose marijuana would rather supporters see the best drug rehab clinic.
Most dispensaries can’t get bank accounts and have to use cash. Why? Because they’re illegal at the federal level, and banks don’t want to be targeted by federal prosecutors. However, the pandemic could push legislators to allow dispensaries to use banks, since cash has the potential to spread COVID.
While the dispensaries find themselves in an odd scenario, they’re managing to still sell product during the lockdowns. Many people initially panicked and stockpiled a large amount of the drug when the pandemic started. They feared they’d be unable to find it once lockdowns were in place.
However, dispensaries continue to offer deliveries and curbside pickup. They’re expanding from the in-store-only model most states mandated when they tentatively allowed for legal marijuana in their borders. This expansion could prove lasting, dispensaries hope.