In the wake of the recent pandemic, there is no better time to lay your hands on the ultimate COVID-19 survival kit for marijuana dispensaries. The legal marijuana industry, which has been classified as an essential service, employs approximately 243,000 staff. Just recently, two marijuana dispensary staff in Massachusetts tested positive for COVID-19. This is an indication of the risk involved in being on the front line of this pandemic.
It’s actually possible for a marijuana dispensary to serve its customers during this bleak season without jeopardizing the safety of its staff and customers. To achieve this, every member of the team has to understand and play their role to perfection; staff and customers alike. This article outlines 10 rules that can help marijuana dispensaries work towards these goals. These basic tenets have been harnessed from the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 guidelines.
Adaptability is Key
The marijuana industry has been resilient and adaptable in the past; the rules and regulations governing this industry keep changing and the industry has to tag along. So it helps that adaptability is top-on-the- list of the COVID-19 survival starter pack for marijuana dispensaries.
Adaptability implies that the marijuana industry has to fashion itself to operate within the “safety limits” of the pandemic. Surprisingly, marijuana dispensaries have recorded all-time-highs in sales since the onset of the pandemic. This trend is expected to ride the full wave of the pandemic; as anxiety heightens so will more people turn to marijuana for relief.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how business is done in many aspects. For example, face to face customer relationship is key to many businesses. However, with this pandemic, this is no longer impossible. Businesses have to find ways to build customer relationships and loyalty without necessarily having to engage customers face-to-face. This is just one of the many things that marijuana dispensaries have to adapt to. Before getting to the rest, here's an overview (what we know so far) of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus which is a type of virus that is highly contagious and deadly in extreme cases.
One theory suggests that this virus is airborne due to how fast it is spread from one person to the next. However, WHO maintains that it is primarily spread through cough droplets from an infected person.
The virus is spread through infected droplets that may be suspended in air or attach to surfaces where they can be viable for up to 24 hours. The mortality rate is less than 1%, but the greater concern has been the contagiousness of this virus. Some sources claim that COVID-19 is even more contagious than the deadly Ebola virus.
Global stats from Worldometers as of 04/06/2020 are as follows:
Coronavirus positive cases- 1,284,805
Coronavirus deaths – 70,382
Recovered – 271, 782
The first case of coronavirus in the US was reported on 20th January, 2020. Since then, it has been a “pandemonium” as the whole country tries to come to terms with the repercussions and brace up for hard times ahead.
With that background, here is the survival kit broken down to 10 essentials.
Rule 1: Use the Outdoors More
Given the mode of transmission of COVID-19, it is safer to deal with customers outside of confined spaces. When an infected person coughs into the atmosphere, the virus is expelled and can travel a distance of 6 feet in the air or land on surfaces that are close by. If two or more infected people cough into the same environment chances are high that someone else is going to come into contact with the virus and get infected.
To help marijuana dispensaries achieve this, some regulatory bodies (such as OLCC) have allowed dispensaries to deliver cannabis products to customers located outside the dispensary. The customers can be in cars (curbside delivery) or they may be standing outside the dispensary.
Rule 2: Observe the 6- Foot Distancing Rule
Some customers may need to come into the dispensary for one-on-one consultation. Should this be necessary, ensure that a distance of 6 feet is maintained between all individuals. For dispensary staff this may mean two things; reducing the number of staff to a skeleton and also limiting movement from one part of the dispensary to another. For customers, it may mean limiting the number of customers that come into the store at a go. While in the store, customers must also maintain the social distance. This will require training so that the staff can instinctively know how to implement social distancing in the dispensary at all times. Additionally, shaking hands, hugging, and kissing should be avoided at all costs.
Rule 3: Schedule Marijuana Dispensary Visits
Marijuana dispensaries can schedule dispensary visits to eliminate walk-ins. By scheduling, dispensaries can manage the inflow of customers making it easier to effect social distancing in the dispensary. Customers can go online and make reservations and the dispensary staff can diarize their visits. Customers then visit the dispensary at a specific time that has been reserved specifically for them.
Rule 4: Hygiene in the Marijuana Dispensary
The level of hygiene in the dispensary is critical in combating the spread of the virus. Sanitizers and hand washing points should be available in the dispensary at all times. Customers should be encouraged to wash hands when they walk in and out of the dispensary.
A special team needs to be tasked with the responsibility of cleaning and disinfecting the dispensary several times a day. Additionally, every team member should take part in sanitizing their work areas several times in a day. Door knobs, tabletops and other places that are touched by several people should be given priority for sanitation.
Rule 5: Use Personal Protective Equipment- PPE
N95 face masks need to be available to dispensary staff for daily use. Gloves that should be changed several times a day should also be made available to staff. Should N95 masks not be available, staff can use alternative masks; “something is better than nothing” applies here.
Rule 6: Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene is critical. This includes not coughing directly into the environment. Handkerchiefs are recommended but when not available coughing into the elbow is acceptable.
Hand washing is also part of personal hygiene. Research has shown that proper hand washing can reduce the transmission of respiratory diseases by 15%-20%. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds. Dispensary staff needs to wash hands every time they have come into contact with any surface.
Lastly, Personal hygiene entails keeping the hands away from the face. The only way the virus can be transported from a surface to a victim is through the hands; a person touches the surface and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes. Before they know it, they have contracted the virus.
Rule 7: Limit the Use of Hard Cash
The marijuana industry is unbanked to a large extent. This means that several marijuana dispensaries operate on a cash basis. At such a time, such dispensaries must adapt to cashless payments.
Given how fast money moves, coronavirus can easily spread through a community through the exchange of money.
What should marijuana dispensaries do?
Whenever possible, dispensaries should insist on credit card payments of other forms of cashless payments such as Krane or CanPay. When hard cash has to be used, strict sanitation measures should be implemented. Dispensary staff should assume that all hard cash is already contaminated. Consequently, it should be sanitized and the person/ people handling it should be in full PPEs and observe strict personal hygiene.
Rule 8: Temperature Checks
A high fever is one of the common symptoms of coronavirus infection. Consequently, temperature check is one of the methods used to screen patients at the airport terminals.
Marijuana dispensaries can adopt a similar approach. This involves the use of a contactless thermometer to screen staff and customers. Those with high fevers should be treated as “suspects” and referred for further checks.
Rule 9: Benefits for Front Line Dispensary Staff
Working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic is no easy feat; the risk is significant. Consequently, dispensary owners need to motivate employees who take up this role. This may be in the form of issuing bonuses or hazard pay. The dispensary should also go the extra mile to provide supplements to boost the immunity of the staff. Lastly, the dispensary owner/s should ensure that the staff have medical insurance in place should they contract the virus while in the line of duty.
Rule 10: Designate a Compliance Officer
This last rule is in no way of least importance. A compliance officer needs to be appointed to ensure that all the rules listed above are implemented to the letter. Should there be a “weak-link” the compliance officer needs to ensure that it is addressed with urgency.
You may have seen it flying on the web that staying at home is the best antidote for COVID-19, this is probably true. However, where this is not applicable the next antidote is personal hygiene which is wrapped up in these three practices:
– Proper hand washing
– Social distancing
– Use of personal protective equipment
Other than personal hygiene, team hygiene which includes sanitizing surfaces and other items also comes in handy. The compliance officer ensures that every effort towards combating the spread of COVID-19 is flowing seamlessly.
To wrap this up: Make Long-term Plans
No one knows how long this will last. The need for making long-term plans (3-6 months probably) cannot be overemphasized.
Thanks for staying to the end; we hope that this COVID-19 survival Kit for marijuana dispensaries was insightful.