In many jurisdictions with legal marijuana, businesses in the cannabis industry have been deemed essential services and permitted to remain open during shutdowns ordered to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. And while most companies appreciate being able to stay in operation during troubling economic times, doing so presents its own challenges to keep employees and customers safe.
At Harborside Inc., the company’s six stores in California and Oregon remain open to serve patients and adult-use customers and its cultivation facility in Salinas, California is still in operation. But it hasn’t been business as usual. The company now offers curbside or drive-through pickup at all four of its California stores, and enhanced sanitation protocols have been initiated.
“The health and safety of our customers and employees has always been our priority, and we know how important this is now more than ever,” said Harborside interim CEO Peter Bilodeau in a press release. “We are committed to the important role that Harborside plays in providing our communities with essential cannabis products during this critical time, and to doing our part to slow the spread of this virus.”
Harborside has implemented a number of new measures in its stores, including limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time and adhering to proper social distancing guidelines. Hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks are available and frequently touched surfaces including countertops, door handles, and ATMs are being cleaned and disinfected frequently.
Harmony Dispensary has closed in-store operations at its Secaucus, New Jersey medical marijuana facility, opting instead for curbside pickup only in accordance with guidelines from the state Department of Health (DOH). The new system will allow patients to obtain their medicine without having to interact with other customers.
“Patients can schedule appointments ahead of time and remain in their vehicle while Harmony staff delivers orders in the parking lot with minimal contact,” a Harmony spokesperson said in an email. “We are working closely with the DOH to ensure we follow stringent hygiene guidelines to protect the safety of our patients and staff.”
New policies and procedures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic aren’t limited to cannabis retailers. At Wonderbrett’s cultivation facility in Long Beach, California, sanitation standards have been ramped up, including disinfecting door handles every 30 minutes. Gloves and masks have been procured for employees and the company is making its own hand sanitizer with isopropyl alcohol and aloe. Maximum occupancies have been established in busy areas and posted notices remind employees to maintain social distancing.
Matt Costa, the CEO of Wonderbrett, said in an email that maintaining business continuity in an emergency requires preparation for a crisis to be part of a company’s standard operating procedure.
“Being successful in uncertain times is never an accident, it is culture,” he wrote. “It is always the result of intelligent effort, over communication, and measured action. Evaluating existing procedures plays a significant role; however, the success of rapidly implementing procedural changes is built on the foundation laid by the company during certain times.”
As more and more people around the world find themselves confined at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, many are turning to cannabis for relief from the stress and anxiety of the crisis. And with the health of their customers and employees in the balance, companies in the industry are stepping up their procedures to provide the safest product and customer experience possible. That’s welcome news in times like these.