The extent of the COVID-19 pandemic is changing every day. We’re all on edge: we don’t know what to expect in the coming weeks. As a result, we must follow the standards our governments tell us to adhere to. Italy is a primary example of what happens when you don’t: the European country didn’t change its behavior quickly enough, and now civilians are in lockdown. The United States is moving in a similar direction, with crowds still gathering, and many only focusing on two questions: is there enough toilet paper, and are cannabis dispensaries open? The San Francisco community is particularly concerned with the latter, especially after Monday’s shelter-in-place order.
So, are cannabis dispensaries open in San Francisco? Yes, is the short answer—but in reality, it’s a tale of public and political outcry, and raising concerns about government-ordered procedures during a pandemic.
Are Dispensaries Open in San Fran? They Weren’t… Until the Public Cried
On Monday, there was the issue of a “shelter-in-place” order in San Francisco, which requires residents to stay inside until April 7, leaving their homes only to go to “essential businesses.” These businesses include grocery stores and pharmacies. It soon came to light that the Department of Public Health had deemed cannabis dispensaries as non-essential. And that’s when the outcry began.
Matt Haney, District 6 Supervisor, was one of the first to take to Twitter to discuss why having dispensaries open during these trying times is imperative—for physical and mental health reasons. “Cannabis dispensaries should be able to stay open, for take out and delivery only,” Haney explained. “They shouldn’t be told to close. They obviously serve as pharmacies for a lot of people.”
For years, SF stood up for the medicinal value of cannabis. We should stick with that stance. Lots of anxiety and chronic pain folks are dealing with right now, shutting down their access to cannabis wouldn’t be good at all.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) March 17, 2020
After it became public knowledge that there would be no more dispensaries open in San Francisco, the community took to the streets. Literally.
Huge lines for weed in the Mission. Even legalization day was shorter than this. pic.twitter.com/cuPyNKEW15
— Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) March 17, 2020
Cannabis users lined the city’s hilled streets on Monday, waiting to get in one last shop before dispensaries shut down Tuesday. And there are two ways of looking at this. First, we could compare this to what the Italians did at the start of their outbreak. They continued to go out and did not listen to the orders of social distancing.
However, we could also look at Monday’s demand as evidence of Haney’s thinking: cannabis is needed medicine for many in the city. And if dispensaries can’t be open, an alternative is required so these individuals can stay healthy in the ways that work for them.
Such public outcry and resistance led to this alternative, 24 hours after the shelter-in-place order was issued.
Dispensaries Open Open Open!
On Tuesday, the Department of Public Health reversed itself.
Cannabis is an essential medicine for many San Francisco residents. Dispensaries can continue to operate as essential businesses during this time, while practicing social distancing and other public health recommendations.
— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) March 17, 2020
Interestingly, while more dispensaries open in the city, cannabis companies based in San Francisco are seeing the opposite on the stock market. For instance, Harborside, Inc. (CSE:HBOR) (OTC:HSDEF), a vertically-integrated cannabis company based in Oakland, is down 0.72% on the OTC market.
No doubt, it was a crazy two days for cannabis dispensaries (and users) in San Francisco. The same goes for the rest of the world as we watched this play out. Yes, cannabis has health benefits, and we see the appeal of stocking up. Still, if we learned anything from the Italians, it’s that when the government and public organizations tell us something regarding COVID-19, we listen. We don’t argue: it’s a difficult time for everyone.
It also should be mentioned that inhaling hot smoke when you’re sick is not good. And nor is sharing bongs and joints. That’s a sure way to spread any virus, especially one as virulent as COVID-19.
So to anyone going to the dispensaries open in San Francisco for pick-up, know that your duties to stop the spread of the disease extends past just picking up a gram or two.
Featured image: DepositPhotos © DragonImages