As many of us step into this strange phase of shelter-in-place and self-quarantine, we see so many of our favorite businesses, like restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and entertainment venues, close their doors—at least for now. Until this situation is under control, only essential businesses are allowed to continue in-person work. For those of us who regularly use cannabis, the first question was obvious: “What about cannabis? Is it considered essential?”
Cannabis has had a tenuous relationship with the law, so cannabis users were understandably nervous that it would be deemed non-essential.
And for a moment, it looked like cannabis companies would also be told to shut down and stop operations. In the Bay Area, a region that helped birth the medical cannabis legalization effort1, cannabis was initially deemed non-essential. In this crisis, companies were told to shut down. The buying frenzy that resulted was significant, not just in San Francisco, but all over, with many stocking up in case their access suddenly disappeared. I have to admit, I started stocking up too.
But thanks to the hard work of cannabis advocates, our favorite plant is here to stay. Complaints from advocacy groups were immediately brought to city lawmakers who quickly reversed their decision. Cannabis was deemed essential in San Francisco, and other states with legal cannabis programs seem to be following suit. In most US locations with shut-down orders, medical cannabis is considered essential. And, in many areas, recreational marijuana is allowed as well, with delivery and curb-side pickups most prominently permitted.
This is a big win for cannabis users everywhere and makes sense because there are so many reasons why cannabis should be considered essential. Here are a few:
Cannabis is Medicine
Essential businesses are defined as those needed to “maintain services Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.” The official guidelines2 include those who work at or help to supply pharmacies. But for those of us who use cannabis as a medicine—dispensaries are just specialized pharmacies. We rely on access to our medicine. Stopping it suddenly could drastically impact the health of vulnerable patients—and be extremely stressful for those who are dependent on cannabis to function with conditions like chronic pain or PTSD. Even amongst those who shop at recreation shops, many are actually using cannabis medicinally.
A Crisis is Not a Good Time for Big Changes
Even for those who use cannabis recreationally and don’t consider their use medicinal, they usually use it for relaxation. Some use marijuana for a boost in their mood or to help shift their mindset. I can’t think of a more critical time to have cannabis at the ready. And importantly, people’s moods and sleep could be negatively impacted if they are forced to stop using cannabis. In many locations, even alcohol has been deemed essential, and it makes sense to keep both of these recreational substances available. While it’s not a time to go wild with these substances, changing up recreational habits like these can be disruptive to your life in the best times. Forcing people to suddenly go without, in a crisis like this, could leave a lot of people in a bad emotional state.
Related Article: How To Enjoy Cannabis Without Getting High
Without Access, Illegal Markets Thrive
Another reason cannabis is essential is that when legal cannabis shuts down, both patients and recreational users are likely to be driven to find cannabis in illegal markets. This puts them (and the general population) at higher risk because these unlicensed vendors have no reason to comply with health and safety standards. The last thing patients need in this crisis is to inhale tainted, moldy, or otherwise compromised cannabis—and put their lungs in a vulnerable position for infection.
How to Buy Cannabis and CBD Online
While cannabis is essential, you still would be better off staying home and letting cannabis come to you. So it’s the perfect time to learn how to find and purchase your cannabis online.
Online Ordering From Licensed Dispensaries
If you live in a state with a legal cannabis program, many local cannabis dispensaries are switching over to online ordering and delivery. You may find you can purchase the cannabis and CBD products you typically get from your dispensary using an online format for the order and purchase. Sticking with products in the cannabis program ensures your products have been tested for contaminants, so it’s good to start there.
Still, there are differences in dispensaries in terms of how they deliver. Most require face-to-face interaction with a delivery driver or an in-person pickup. If this is a concern, check in with your dispensary over the phone first to learn about their procedure.
Immunocompromised folks might want to look for online dispensaries that are already set-up to process payment online. This is rare to find in local dispensaries that are just switching over but is often the case with purely online dispensaries that offer next day delivery. These are more likely to allow payment online and a drop off at the door without having to have a face-to-face interaction with a delivery driver.
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Buying CBD Online
If you are looking for CBD, you can find a wider variety of options online outside of legal cannabis programs. These can be purchased online and will be delivered in the mail so they don’t require in-person interaction.
Still, it’s important to note that CBD products vary wildly outside of legal cannabis programs because there is very little oversight on these unregulated products. If you are buying CBD online, research the brands you are buying from first, rather than buying the first or cheapest product you stumble upon. Look for those brands which have been widely reviewed by others, have a trusted reputation, and offer independent lab test results to verify the safety and potency of their products. These simple steps could be the difference between a CBD product that works and one that might not actually have any CBD in it at all.
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