What a buzzkill – how Covid-19 is affecting cannabis

Published on March 12, 2020 by David Wylie

Initially, Covid-19 was merely an inconvenience for stoners.

With panicked shoppers buying out all the isopropyl alcohol, we couldn’t clean our bongs or vapes.

As infections spread, however, it’s fast becoming a much larger problem for everyone, including in the cannabis community.

For starters, the pandemic is causing the cancellation of events.

On Thursday, the BC government directed all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people.

“This threshold has been selected, as it is much easier to maintain important social distancing to prevent transmission of COVID-19,” said officials in a statement.

In response, one of the country’s biggest cannabis events, 420 Vancouver, announced it was taking a hiatus.

“Though 4/20 is a protest, it is not a protest against health officials, and it makes sense to help them protect the public from the outbreak of an infectious virus,” said 420 Vancouver organizers.

A number of conferences set in the U.S., and elsewhere internationally, have been postponed or cancelled.

Elsewhere in Canada, both the Cannabis + Technology | Retail Tech (April 16) event in Toronto, as well as Medical Cannabis Week (May 4-8), which was planned for various locations, were postponed.

“Based on current information, the responsible path forward is to embrace social distancing as the norm until we are able to flatten the curve,” said Business of Cannabis. “It is our belief that over the next several months, most work will be done remotely and digitally, meaning that digital content will be the main method through which business development, professional learning and other person-to-person connections will occur.”

Meanwhile, the Growing Summit in Kelowna is still scheduled to go ahead. The event is much smaller than the 420 Vancouver, which drew 150,000 people last year. The conference schedule for March 31 and April 1 at The Laurel Packinghouse downtown is under the 250-person threshold.

Organizers continue to monitor developments.

Sniff jars get the plug

Retailers are also responding to COVID-19 concerns. Spiritleaf in Vernon said it’s taking steps to protect staff and customers.

“We have removed our sensory jars as these sample containers are handled frequently by staff and customers,” said the store in a statement posted to Instagram.

“We want you to know that our store is and always has been cleaned regularly, and touched up throughout the day by our amazing staff, ensuring all high-traffic areas are sanitized regularly.”

Spiritleaf offered a few tips for people staying home:

  • Stock up — you’re allowed 30 grams of cannabis per transaction.
  • Call in your order to speed up the transaction at the till
  • Use a local delivery service with a 19-plus driver

As the pandemic drags on, it also has the potential to lead to a weakened legal supply chain due to a shortage of masks and gloves — requirements for staff at licensed producers.

Keep in mind that for many, cannabis is medicine. Health Canada suggests filling prescriptions and ensuring you have a good supply of the medications you need.

While the purchase limit is  You can have as much as you want at home.

Here are five practical tips:

  1. Don’t pass the Dutchie. Now is not the time to share the same joint or vape with others. We are being advised to create social distance to slow the spread and flatten the curve.
  2. Don’t panic. Getting paranoid about things while high is not fun. If you’re aware that you tend to overthink things negatively, then take a break or switch to CBD strains.
  3. Don’t sellout. Those who own weed stocks are panic selling. Portfolios across the board are hurting, so don’t dump all your investments while they are plummeting. Markets recover, like people after they get sick.
  4. Do prepare. The infection rate is said to be 30% to 70%, so make sure you are gradually building up your pantry, closet and freezer with things you will use.
  5. Do relax. If you can work from home now, enjoy the experience. If you’re in the position to take a vacation or sabbatical, this is the time. Creating social distance also means you can spend time at home with family without the pressure to always be on the go.

David Wylie’s column, By The Ounce, appears in The Daily Courier newspaper and online at Castanet. He also is the man behind the curtain of the oz. 

Photo credit to Reddit u/hippiekayay