Even a few months ago, no one could have predicted that anp unknown disease would spread around the world — least of all anyone in the cannabis industry, most of whom have been focused on finding a niche and building a business in a brand-new, highly competitive industry. Yet, now that COVID-19 has wracked almost every community across the United States, it is the marijuana businesses that are stepping up to help.
Cannabis has largely been deemed essential by state governments, meaning that in states from Alaska and Maine to Colorado, marijuana products remain available to those who need them. To celebrate this major victory and give back to the communities that support them, growers, labs, dispensaries and more are doing what they can — to include:
Donating Scarce PPE
Aside from the growing numbers of infected, the issue dominating headlines across the U.S. is the widespread lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, amongst healthcare workers. PPE includes items like masks, respirators, gloves, eye protection and gowns. In typical healthcare environments, PPE is used only once — so a nurse might wear a mask and gloves to help with one patient, then throw that mask and gloves away and don another set before consulting with a different patient. Unfortunately, because hospitals and other healthcare facilities are seeing such an upsurge in patients, they don’t have enough PPE to manage this normal, hygienic behavior. As a result, healthcare workers are forced to conserve PPE, perhaps having one set for COVID-positive patients and another set for non-COVID patients — or else only using one PPE set all day long.
To help combat this dearth, many individuals businesses have begun donating their unused PPE to local healthcare centers, to include many marijuana dispensaries around the country. Often, marijuana workers use gloves, masks and eye protection to handle products safely, and businesses with excess stores of PPE have happily given away what they can spare.
Creating Hemp Swabs
The effects that marijuana has on the mind and body have so dominated discussions of cannabis that many people have forgotten that for centuries, the plant was used almost solely for its fiber. Hemp fiber is incredibly advantageous; it is remarkably strong, resistant to water, mold, UV damage and pests, lightweight and notably versatile. Plus, because cannabis plants grow relatively quickly, hemp is a cheap and sustainable material.
That’s why many hemp-based businesses are altering their production to hemp swabs, which can replace cotton swabs in hospitals and healthcare facilities as a more readily available and eco-friendlier solution. Swabs are essential in various medical testing and treatments — most notably in collecting samples from those suspected of being infected by COVID-19. By switching to production of healthcare supplies, weed businesses are directly contributing to fighting the pandemic.
Developing Hand Sanitizer
It is common to see hand sanitizer present in dispensaries, where cleanliness is important for both budtenders and customers alike. Yet, in the midst of this crisis, a few dispensaries have pivoted toward producing their own hand sanitizer, which they can use in their stores and donate to healthcare facilities and other businesses nearby. This is possible because marijuana production is strictly regulated, and many manufacturers and dispensaries alike have robust laboratories filled with complex equipment and chemicals. The greater availability of sanitizing liquids and gels potentially decreases the spread of the virus and reduces the load on the healthcare industry.
Offering Free and Discounted Products
Plenty of weed businesses don’t have PPE, hemp supplies or hand sanitizer to offer — so instead they are offering their typical wares. In places like Colorado, many marijuana dispensaries are hosting sales and ongoing discounts for customers; in fact, certain patrons, like healthcare workers and anyone financially impacted by the pandemic, might have access to certain products for free. If you fit into one of these categories, you might consider calling dispensaries near you and inquiring about any available deals.
What’s more, many dispensaries are committing a portion of their sales for the next few weeks to various causes in their communities. Local charities like food banks, food and supplies delivery services, medical relief efforts and more are seeing a surge in use by populations in dire need of support during the pandemic, and any financial aid is much appreciated. Because many dispensaries are seeing better sales of late, they can afford to contribute to these important causes.
Marijuana dispensaries are proving that they are vital members of the community — not just because they provide an essential product that people need and want, especially during times of crisis, but because they are eager to stay involved in the wellness and security of those around them. The donation of PPE, the innovation of much-needed supplies and the contribution to critical public services are just a few ways weed businesses are showing they care.