How to Access Cannabis in the U.S. and Canada During Coronavirus

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A lot depends on where you live, but here’s where things stand in North America for now

In the weeks since a global public health crisis has forced Americans and Canadians alike to take refuge at home, the value of cannabis as an “essential” service has been questioned, reinforced, and debated ad nauseam by local governments across both countries.

No Loans for American Cannabis Operators

For licensed cannabis operators in the U.S., the immense economic hardships poised by the current “stay at home” orders is only further compounded by weed’s status as a controlled substance at the federal level. Unlike many other small businesses, cannabis operators and those associated with them will not be able to access the loans and services established in the $2 trillion pandemic aid package known as the CARES Act, which was signed into law by Donald Trump on March 27.

Canada Considers Cannabis Essential

Meanwhile, in Canada, the federal government classified medical cannabis as an “essential” service on April 2. According to Marijuana Business Daily, “most Canadian provinces have allowed cannabis businesses and their supply chains to remain operational amid stricter physical-distancing measures undertaken to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Most Canadian provinces have allowed cannabis businesses and their supply chains to remain operational amid stricter physical-distancing measures undertaken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario Closes Its Cannabis Doors

One exception appears to be the province of Ontario, which also happens to be Canada’s largest cannabis market. On April 3, city officials told all cannabis stores to close their doors. This pivot to delivery-only sales means that private-sector operators (Ontario has around 50) are effectively out of business for at least the next two weeks given that only government-owned Ontario Cannabis Stores (OCS) are currently permitted to offer delivery.

Given Canada’s official mail service, Canada Post, is no longer offering door-to-door deliveries of cannabis, delivery-only in Ontario will find consumers forced to leave home and visit a post office in order to get their purchases. In related news, Motley Fool suggests that coronavirus will be a “gut-punch” to Canadian pot stocks.

Coalition States Trying to Make CBD Products Widely Available

Things are no less complex in the United States, where a patchwork coalition of states have made it clear that cannabis is an “essential” service to their respective constituents.

Of note: the city of Berkeley, California recently attempted to go delivery-only after initially classifying dispensaries as “essential.” Within 24 hours, public outcry had inspired them to reverse course. In Colorado, the state’s first delivery permit (albeit for medical marijuana only) was issued on March 19 in hopes of providing a safer way to get cannabis products into vulnerable patients’ hands during this crisis.

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