Cannabis Firms Respond to Coronavirus Pandemic


Nearly every major industry is feeling the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and responses from several notable cannabis firms are beginning to trickle in. 

Chicago-based Cresco Labs announced Thursday that it would “continue to operate all of its dispensaries during regularly scheduled hours, as permitted.”

The company also said it has increased its “already-stringent sanitization measures” and is requiring both customers and employees to adhere to suggested social distancing practices in an effort to stop the halt the spread of COVID-19.

“We have been working side-by-side with our state administrations to provide counsel regarding best practices and potential solutions that will both accomplish the social imperative to stop the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that patients and all customers have the products they rely on for their health and wellness,” co-founder and CEO Charlie Bachtell said via a press release.

Cresco is encouraging that customers utilize online ordering, opt for home delivery (where legal) and take advantage of curbside pickup which will launch in Illinois next week.

Meanwhile, the company said its cultivation and production operations would also continue as it implements increased sanitation and safety procedures. 

“In accordance with the guidance provided by the CDC, and with support from the Company’s Public Health and Epidemiology consultant, Cresco is taking every step possible to provide the healthiest environment at its facilities nationwide,” the company wrote in its release.

Bachtell said Cresco spent weeks developing a coronavirus contingency plan, and working “side-by-side” with state officials to balance the need to stop the spread of COVID-19 while allowing medical marijuana patients and recreational customers to obtain cannabis.

“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,” he said via the release.

Elsewhere, Canada’s Canopy Growth Corporation said it would temporarily close 23 of its Tokyo Smoke and Tweed retail locations across the country earlier this week.

“We have a responsibility to our employees, their families, and our communities to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ by limiting social interactions.” Canopy CEO David Klein said via a release. “For us, that means shifting our focus from retail to e-commerce.” 

David Klein characterized the move as a “big decision,” but added that it was “an easy one to make.”

“Given the current situation, it is in the best interest of our teams and our communities to close these busy hubs until we are confident we can operate our stores in the best interest of public health,” he said. 

For its part, California-based MedMen said it was following CDC guidelines to help curb the spread of COVID-19. In doing so, MedMen has shortened hours and is “strongly encouraging” customers to order online and utilize express pickup. 

MedMen added that budtenders have been instructed to routinely wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and to frequently use hand sanitizer. 

The company has also committed to “cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces” every 30 minutes. Those surfaces include doorknobs, counter tops, ATM machines, debit card terminals, iPads, bud pods, and point of sale terminals, it said.

Meanwhile, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses to close for 30 days on Tuesday, but cannabis dispensaries will remain open during that time.

1933 Industries CEO Chris Rebentisch said his company is implementing “enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures” while continuing to operate its cultivation and manufacturing facilities in Nevada in an effort to “meet the increased demand” for cannabis concentrates.

In a press release, Las Vegas-based Planet 13 said it would “provide online ordering, delivery and core dispensary services” but it has temporarily closed its restaurant and halted “secondary activities” at its SuperStore.

Planet 13 co-founders Larry Scheffler and Bob Groesbeck added that the company had $16 million of cash on hand to “weather this period of volatility.”

For tis part, Flower One Holdings, which has a 455,000 sq. ft. cultivation and production facility in Nevada, will also continue to operate in an effort to meet “a notable increase in demand.”

"We are confident that we have taken all reasonable, proactive and precautionary measures at this time to protect the health and well-being of all our valued employees and the safety of our product," Flower One president and CEO Ken Villazor said via a press release.

As of press time, there were 265,495 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 11,113 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there were 16,018 confirmed and presumptive positive cases and 210 deaths as of press time.

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