Similar to grocery stores and restaurants, cannabis dispensaries in Seattle are adapting to the times by creating a new normal. In over a dozen states, cannabis dispensaries have been classified as essential business.
While all of those states permit the sale of medical marijuana, several such as California, Washington, and Michigan have also allowed the sale of recreational marijuana.
Most dispensaries are offering curbside drop-off services or even weed delivery, but several are also letting customers inside their stores.
How Cannabis Dispensaries in Seattle are Faring During COVID-19
So, how exactly are cannabis dispensaries in Seattle keeping their employees safe during this global pandemic?
As is the case across the country, people are able to order online, drive to the shop for curbside pickup, and even have their order delivered to their car.
In cases where customers are allowed into the physical locations, stores are asking that customers obey the recommended guidelines. This includes wearing a face mask and keeping at least 6 feet apart from other people.
Other stores are implementing their own policies like encouraging customers to avoid touching any product displays. If they want to see something, then they should ask a budtender to learn more about the product. The checkout process has also been modified to reduce or eliminate the use of cash. Peer-to-peer apps such as Venmo and Cash App are increasingly accepted at most dispensaries. Of course, there’s usually always the option to pay with a card.
In some cases, business has boomed. People who need medical marijuana are typically buying enough to have at least a month’s worth of medication at home. With massive stay-at-home orders, the sale of medical marijuana has likewise increased.
This has posed a unique challenge to dispensaries in Seattle, and the people they employ.
According to the New York Times:
“Uncle Ike’s, a dispensary in Seattle, where marijuana was legalized in 2014, isn’t making deliveries, but the influx of customers in the shop puts its staff members, or “budtenders,” at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“People were lining up to make sure that they were able to get what they could,” said Jesse Huminski, 30, the regional manager at Uncle Ike’s. “There were people ordering $500 and $700 worth of product. It felt like we were doing black Friday business on a Monday.”
Uncle Ike’s asked employees to wear gloves and masks and spaced out customers inside the store to help prevent anyone from getting infected.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everyone coming in and out,” Mr. Huminski said.”
Even with these new protocols, there’s no such thing as being too cautious. Afterall, COVID-19 has already claimed 100,000 lives in the United States alone and is nearing 2 million confirmed infections.
Though the car delivery or car pick-up method is generally considered one of the safest methods since contact is limited, many dispensary employees are still encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands often.
Fortunately, while dispensaries and other businesses are taking healthy hygiene seriously, it appears that many customers are as well. Buyers generally don’t want to put the shop’s staff members or budtenders at risk.
They also want to minimize the odds of getting the virus themselves. If both parties participate responsibly, then it should increase the safety for everyone involved in the transaction.
Are Transactions Completely “Contactless”?
People who want to go to a Seattle dispensary in person can do so, depending on the specific policies of the dispensary. Customers are typically asked to avoid handing anything to the budtenders. For example, when IDs are asked for to verify eligibility to make the purchase, customers can typically place it upon the counter so that the budtender can confirm that the buyer is over 21 years old.
By placing IDs on the counter, direct human-to-human contact is eliminated. Plus, the counter can always be wiped down and cleaned with disinfectant. Customers who are especially concerned can also wipe down their ID and wallet when they get home.
Dispensaries are no different from any other business. Change and adaptability are critical to survive in today’s world. As experts and researchers learn more about COVID-19 and its transmissibility, the CDC, federal, and local governments update their guidelines for safety.
Dispensaries and their employees are encouraged to practice these guidelines for their health as well as the health of their customers. Together, communities are finding new, creative, and safe ways to continue doing business with each other.