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Yes, weed is essential during a pandemic

Colorado marijuana dispensaries were swarmed on Monday after Mayor Michael Hancock announced they would be imminently closing. Some stores reported lines around the block and major violations of social distancing as customers panicked to load up on beer and weed mere minutes after Hancock made the announcement. As a result, Hancock pivoted and decreed a few short hours later that both liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries could remain open using safe social distancing precautions, according to the Denver Post. As government officials in cities nationwide urge citizens to stock up on essentials #stayhome, we are starting to see that many believe that weed is necessary in order to maintain some semblance of normalcy in their lives.

It’s not just the mountain state folks who think that cannabis is essential. Many state officials are allowing dispensaries to operate during the COVID crisis as other businesses close — California, Illinois, and Maryland to name a few, Forbes reported. “The recognition by our government officials that cannabis is indeed not just here to stay, but an essential part of life for millions of Americans—particularly in the patient community—is a welcome move in the right direction,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told Forbes.

There are patients who rely on cannabis prescriptions to treat medical prescriptions, of course, but in many states, recreational dispensaries will also remain open. Alteri noted that this is a crucial move for allowing people to maintain a high quality of life during these trying times, according to Forbes. Let’s be honest, a lot of us could use some high times right now.

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In case you’re concerned about packed dispensaries full of stoners potentially inflating the curve, relax. Most dispensaries will be operating according to the same rules imposed upon restaurants, the New York Times reported. Dispensaries will deliver orders or arrange curbside pick-up so that customers aren’t waiting in clogged lines, and most doctors are being asked to prescribe via telemedicine. Social distancing measures within open dispensaries are no joke. They will put a strict six feet between you and any other human and make sure you wash your hands before entering.

Curaleaf, a giant cannabis franchise with 53 dispensaries in 17 states, has even set aside an hour a day when only customers aged 60 and over can shop and has a mobile app that lets customers shop from home and pick up their weed at the curb, the New York Times reported. So basically, you call a guy, he tells you what he’s holding, and then you hand over cash from your car window? It’s like in the olden days, but legit and above the law.

The measures that are being taken by businesses and governments highlight the fact that the cultural mood towards cannabis is changing. Marijuana, for many, is now seen as both an important treatment and also as necessary for preserving our quality of life. Personally, I’m in favor of any measures that will likely keep more people chilling on the couch. Stay home, turn on, and make sure you’re on your local government’s text alert system.