Cannabis Shops Deemed “Essential” and Allowed to Stay Open Under LA’s Emergency Coronavirus Order
While millions of Californians are hunkering down following successive local emergency orders followed on Thursday evening by a statewide “stay at home” order from California Governor Newsom—the priorities faced by the state remain in the hearts and minds of residents and authorities.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the Golden State, authorities in Los Angeles County and the cities within its borders are taking pains to ensure that essential services continue to operate uninterrupted—including cannabis dispensaries.
The Los Angeles Times reports that despite the order to shutter all indoor malls, shopping centers, playgrounds, and nonessential retail businesses, cannabis dispensaries must continue to operate alongside hardware stores, grocery stores, and city and county government services. Like other spaces, the dispensaries must observe social-distancing guidelines and not gather over 10 people.
For a state that spearheaded the drive to legalize marijuana—first as medicine, then as a recreational substance—the logic is simple. According to the City of Los Angeles’ coronavirus FAQ, essential healthcare services include “cannabis dispensaries, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services.”
To answer a popular question: cannabis dispensaries with a medicinal cannabis license are considered essential and may remain open. https://t.co/9f8LQDXWCP
— Los Angeles County (@CountyofLA) March 20, 2020
On Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the “Safer at Home” emergency order that commands all residents to stay inside their residences, limiting all movements outside of their homes unless they are engaged in certain essential activities. The order is legally enforceable, meaning that violation could bring criminal penalties including a fine or imprisonment.
But amid the siege-like conditions suffered by Californians, residents remain adamant about stocking up on not just hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and guns, but also their cannabis.
In an informal survey of cannabis dispensaries and delivery services, the Times found that dispensary-to-consumer deliveries have shot up significantly in the month of March as the gravity of the crisis surrounding the novel virus has sunken in among residents.
The Times detailed:
“When it comes to what, specifically, customers are buying, the dispensaries we checked in with report that flower (a.k.a. the dried buds of the marijuana plant) remains the top-selling category but that there has been a noticeable rise in the edibles category (THC-infused gummies, chocolates and the like). Sweet Flower and Airfield Supply Company both point to Kiva Confections’ Midnight Blueberry Camino gummies with 5 mg THC and 1 mg of CBN per piece (CBN is a cannabinoid associated with inducing a restful night’s sleep) as being particularly popular.”
Uh the line for MedMen WeHo right now pic.twitter.com/ChZoNf35An
— Andrea Chang (@byandreachang) March 20, 2020
On Thursday evening, Gov. Newsom issued an unprecedented order that requires nearly 40 million residents of California to stay at home for an indefinite amount of time as the state copes with rising coronavirus infection numbers and grim forecasts about potential outbreak scenarios. The order came only an hour after officials in L.A. county issued a similar mandate, and days after Bay Area counties gave similar orders.
As of Thursday night, 958 people have tested positive for the CoViD-19 novel virus while 19 people have died so far.
During his address, Newsom said:
“This is a moment we need to make tough decisions … This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell people the truth: We need to bend the curve in the state of California.”
CA is issuing a statewide, mandatory STAY AT HOME order.
Those that work in critical sectors should go to work. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and more will stay open.
We need to meet this moment and flatten the curve together.
Go to https://t.co/xtXFwVeWc2 to learn more.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 20, 2020