The current times have many of us seeing the things we had once taken for granted with a new lens of immense gratitude and appreciation. We are learning to let go of our known way of life and adjust to a new one; one we never could have anticipated. What has been deemed essential for the American people has been put in the hands of the government; this is not just a historical time for the cannabis community, but for the world. Amid coronavirus-related forced closures and stay-at-home mandates, the announcements rang: medical & recreational dispensaries will remain open; cannabis has been declared an essential business!
Cannabis has been a tool to ease the suffering caused by illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, and aids since 1996. It’s currently being tested as an alternative treatment for anxiety disorders such as PTSD. Cannabis is also commonly used as a sleep-aid. Sleep, as we’ve learned from medical research, plays a complex role as both a catalyst for and repercussion of anxiety disorders. Even outside the bounds of the medical designation, it is improving quality of life for millions. So, is cannabis essential? Yes, we’d say so.
We decided to ask frequent cannabis users why it’s essential in their lives. Kiefer, an avid user, told us, “Cannabis is essential to me for so much more than just getting high. Cannabis is essential to me because it helps me be the best possible version of myself. It helps me with my depression and anxiety, my chronic back and knee pain, and helps stimulate my appetite which is something I struggle with. Cannabis is most certainly medicine for me.”
Currently, the legal cannabis industry has 211,000 full-time employees according to a recent Leafly job count. This declaration of being essential has ensured a sense of job security for many during this time of uncertainty. Beth Thuna, owner of the Hueneme Patient Collective dispensary, expressed her relief after the declaration, “I can’t begin to express what a relief we felt when cannabis dispensaries were classified as essential services. We started in this industry as a medical only dispensary, so we immediately recognized the vital relief cannabis provides to patients. Since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve received messages of appreciation for remaining open as we provide helpful recommendations for products to ease anxiety during this difficult time. It makes us feel glad that we can help in any small way during this crisis.” While their way of doing business has changed, with online orders and curb-side pickup, the connection between the providers and their customers remains strong.
Manufacturers and sellers of cannabis being revered as essential in many states while remaining federally illegal, certainly further reveals the truly odd juxtaposition in our country. Looking ahead, this could move the expansion of the legal cannabis industry forward in a big way. Michael Hancock, Denver’s Mayor, first classified dispensaries as non-essential. Within hours of his announcement, hundreds of people left home to stock up as dispensaries prepared to close up shop; lines of people wrapped around blocks! In response to this evident demand, the Mayor had a sudden change of heart, and policy. Legal cannabis businesses became essential. While it shouldn’t take a pandemic to eliminate the stigma around marijuana, it is a relief to see government officials changing the way they view the cannabis community during this very challenging time. The cannabis community and industry is, indeed, essential, and it is here to stay.
Authored by Brittany Parker, NFuzed Mktg. Coordinator