COVID-19NewsRetailUSMajor retailers keep doors open as US lawmakers deem cannabis ‘essential’

Cresco Labs said its 22 dispensaries across seven U.S. states will stay open amid the COVID-19 health crisis
Jared Gnam Jared GnamMarch 19, 20209 min

Cresco Labs (CSE: CL) will continue to operate all of its dispensaries and production facilities across 11 U.S. states, as more jurisdictions declare cannabis businesses as “essential” services amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Chicago-based company said Thursday its 22 dispensaries in seven states will stay open during regular hours to ensure patients and consumers have access to cannabis products they rely on for daily health needs.

Cresco said management has heightened its already-stringent sanitation measures at the retail level, and implemented social distancing protocols between employees and consumers.

Some of these measures include: driving traffic to online ordering, notifying product availability to consumers via text messaging, switching to home delivery where permitted, and offering curbside pickup.

Cresco operates five cannabis stores in its home state of Illinois, and state officials there announced official guidance for dispensary operators on March 17.

Because Illinois deems cannabis businesses as an essential service, it is permitting stores to sell medical cannabis “on the dispensary’s property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary,” until March 30.

Cresco noted that similar permissions have been arranged in other cities and states.

“Many government agencies have deemed cannabis products ‘essential’ in the communities that Cresco Labs operates in and as medical providers, we take our obligations during the current period of global uncertainty very seriously,” CEO Charlie Bachtell said in statement.

“Many of our dispensaries are classified in the same category as pharmacies that people depend on as trusted access points for prescription medicine and continuing to provide that access is a fundamental responsibility.”

Cresco Labs stays open as U.S. jurisdictions deem cannabis businesses 'essential'
Cresco Labs says its 22 dispensaries will remain operating across seven U.S. states amid the COVID-19 crisis, but the company has been enforcing social distancing policies. Press photo

Social distancing required, but cannabis shops stay open across U.S.

In Nevada, Cresco operates five cannabis stores (four pending an acquisition closing), and state officials there have also allowed dispensaries to stay open during a 30-day public lockdown that started Wednesday.

Read more: 1933 Industries continues Nevada operations despite public lockdown

Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (CSE: CURA) claims to be the largest U.S. cannabis retailer with a combined 74 stores open across the country.

The company announced Thursday over five Twitter posts that it has received an essential services designation to remain open for patients in several jurisdictions. Those states include: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada and certain locales in California.

Curaleaf is encouraging customers to take advantage of delivery, mobile ordering and express pickup options in the states where these services are available. The company added it is working with regulators to explore making these options available in states where they currently are prohibited.

The U.S. operator said it is also “enforcing social distancing, providing designated early hours for seniors, exploring curb-side delivery options and moving waiting customer lines outside.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on Wednesday for all non-essential businesses to implement work-from-home policies.

However, NPR reports New York’s licensed dispensaries, within the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, are considered essential medical providers and will be allowed to remain open.

Cresco operates four cannabis dispensaries across New York state.

To keep up with increased demand for cannabis products, the company said its cultivation and production operations will also continue to operate.

Cresco Labs said it has hired a public health and epidemiology consultant to ensure elevated sanitation, quality, and safety programs are in place at its production facilities across the U.S.

The company has a cultivation and testing facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is another jurisdiction that has deemed cannabis businesses as essential.

Cresco Labs said it’s communicating with its 1,200 staff members daily to ensure safety, and manage all operations during the uncertainty surrounding the global COVID-19 crisis.

The company added that it is working side-by-side with state administrations to stay updated daily on policy changes, and to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Top image via Cresco Labs

 

jared@mugglehead.com

@JaredGnam

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