Cannabis Workers Considered Essential During Pandemic

by Trey Reckling, Director, Academy of Cannabis Science 

Who could have forecasted just a few years ago that a word commonly associated with cannabis would be “essential”?

Few of us have ever been through a crisis like this. Now we are getting to see that rules change. Some businesses have been forced to close while others are deemed essential. No one was surprised that workers in healthcare, utilities, shipping, grocery stores and others made the list of those essential to continue. But cannabis? For many people, cannabis making the list was a head turner.

It should not have been a surprise. Tens of thousands of people in this country use cannabis as medicine every day. Cannabis can reduce stress and pain, as well as the amount of alcohol and prescription medications people take. To cut people off from viable healthcare options during a worldwide health crisis would have been irresponsible.

Pandemic Rules Apply

Kudos to the governors from over 20 states who have determined that cannabis is essential for our communities, allowing the industry to continue its service. States like Washington have been creative and worked hard to lower barriers and protect customers by allowing curbside pickup.

Cannabis sales are reported up in many West Coast cities, with spikes that preceded initial stay-at- home orders as people stocked up with more than just toilet paper.

Behind the continued robustness of the fledgling industry are thousands of frontline workers selling stress relief one bag of cannabis at a time. They are gloved up and masked, sometimes in awkward and newly rearranged quarters to allow them to serve the public.

Becoming Frontline Workers

“It is a powerful moment for cannabis,” said Kenji Hobbs, former student of the Seattle Central College Cannabis Institute and assistant manager at Dockside Sodo. “I feel the essential status of cannabis businesses brings a new sense of normalcy. I also think this will impact lawmaking positively in the future. It is my hope it will lead to more progressive cannabis policy on a national level.”

Working through the pandemic in spite of the risks and adapting to new standards has not been easy. Hobbs continued, “It has been stressful and tiring for many, and that is undeniable. That being said, cannabis workers are generally very giving, generous, and kind people with an urge to serve, to help. We feel we are contributing to the whole of society. I am very impressed with the bravery I've seen in the industry.”

As educators in the cannabis industry, we are impressed as well and proud of all of our students, friends and allies who have been working so diligently for the public good. If you work in the industry: thank you for your ongoing work during this difficult time.

The next time you applaud essential workers, don’t neglect to show love for our frontline cannabis employees who are doing their best to support patients and customers, making things a bit more bearable, one interaction at a time.

Cannabis Institute at Seattle Central College's Continuing Education

“It is a powerful moment for cannabis,” said Kenji Hobbs, former student of Seattle Central College's Cannabis Institute and assistant manager at Dockside Sodo.

Kenji Hobbs, former student of Seattle Central College's Cannabis Institute

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