Dispensaries, Safety and Social Distancing: Staying Open During COVID-19

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If the impact of the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic is still very much an open question, one thing isn’t in doubt: Demand for cannabis is surging. According to cannabis-focused news outlets including Marijuana Business Daily and Ganjapreneur, sales in most legal North American markets have seen dramatic increases in sales over the last week.

Whether or not the rush persists (or is merely a temporary spike as citizens prepare to self-quarantine), dispensaries need to be prepared to do business safely and sanely in the midst of an all-too-transmissible virus. To that end, here are some basic precautions and best practices.

Keep Your Business Clean

Maintaining a clean physical plant should be second nature for any responsible dispensary operator, but in the current environment it takes on vital importance. In addition to regularly disinfecting high-touch and high-traffic spots such as doorknobs, PIN pads, and countertops, employees should be disinfecting every single item of packaging before it reaches a customer’s hands. On that note, latex or nitrile gloves for all employees are a must.

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While the COVID-19 / coronavirus appears to be lethal in only a small percentage of cases, the real risk lies in unconscious transmission. All employees should be consistently self-monitoring for the common symptoms of the coronavirus as described by the World Health Organization.

Online Ordering and Curbside Pickup: Saving More than Just Time

In the effort to reduce interactions and shared space, online ordering has gone from being a convenience to being a near-necessity. As reported on Ganjapreneur, some dispensaries are either incentivizing online ordering or switching to a mandatory pre-ordering system in order to cut down on person-to-person interactions.

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If your municipal regulations allow curbside pickup, that’s one more way to cut down on potential transmission of the virus. Obviously, there are drawbacks: The cash-only nature of the cannabis industry precludes prepayment in many states, and any sales that require making change are a potential risk to budtenders’ safety. That said, the dispensary operators able to provide curbside pickup feel the pros outweigh the cons, and it’s a safe bet many potential customers will agree.

Reducing Exposure to Cash

Ah yes, the cash problem. Even in the best of times, paper money is notoriously unclean. If your staffing allows it, consider detailing one or two budtenders at a time to handle all the cash used for transactions. Consider issuing them a face mask, and definitely provide customers hand sanitizer—or use of the sink in the dispensary restroom—after handling cash.

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Be Creative

This moment is a challenging one, no doubt about it. Think of ways to better educate your customers, let them know you support them, and remind them that you’re working hard to keep them safe. It’s a time to remind all of our friends, colleagues, customers, and employees that we’re looking out for each other.

We’ll keep you updated on the developing effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the cannabis industry. Need help getting the word out about changes, call us.