The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has moved quickly to adjust rules to allow continued access to cannabis retail stores during the COVID-19 outbreak. Retail cannabis was deemed essential by the Governor’s office when it issued a stay-at-home order Monday evening. The order closes most retail and other non-essential businesses starting today, March 25, as part of the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Seattle has been one of the nation’s hot spots.
To encourage social distancing but maintain access during the stay at home order, the WSLCB put out advisements to licensees loosening the law to allow curbside pickup for not just medical, but all customers. Drive-thru windows and outside tent sales are not allowed. There must be a designated area for pickup as close to the store as possible. Customers must pre-order and pay, no one under 21 can be in the vehicle, and everyone in the vehicle must provide valid ID. Many stores have been announcing their procedures on social media to protect customers and employees.
In another move championed by the Washington Sungrowers Industries Association, the Liquor and Cannabis Board sent out a notice to licensees that enable producers and processors to have their minor children on-site, as long as they are not engaged in any work. This only applies to the children or grandchildren of licensees, not employees, or retail operations. With schools closed across the state, cannabis farmers expressed joy and relief in receiving the news. Across social media, farms posted photos of their children joining them for the first time. The advisement loosens the rule through the end of April.
Anecdotal information tells us that while foot traffic has been down, sales have been up in many locations as patients and customers stockpile products in fear of store closings. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen, but to ensure access remains, please be respectful of the processes each store is creating. Minimize your trips, don’t share smoking devices, and wash your hands between sessions. We will get through this together.