Updated: May 13
In just a few short months Cannabis has changed from Illegal to essential. When Chicago held Illinois first ever Cannabis Resource Fair in February of this year, Lori Lightfoot shared what we had all be waiting to hear, that we as Chicagoan's will lead the way in the cannabis industry and set an example of how things can be done.
As cities around the world begin to implement “shelter in place” orders, we’re becoming more aware of the crucial role that cannabis plays in our communities. During these unprecedented times, businesses (cannabis and others) must adjust to shifting needs and priorities—both within their respective industries and society as a whole. How are cannabis companies being impacted, and why is the legalization of delivery services becoming increasingly prevalent?
Included in sweeping stay at home orders are mandates that require all non-essential businesses close their doors for operation—only businesses deemed “essential” to the fabric of society can operate. In cities like Denver, Los Angeles, and Chicago, cannabis dispensaries are among the businesses that have been deemed essential, and are allowed to keep their doors open.
While this is a positive sign for the cannabis industry, and indicates a powerful shift in the way that local governments view cannabis, it’s posing new obstacles for the way cannabis businesses are allowed to operate. For example, as a way to limit crowds from forming, many dispensaries have opted to strictly service medical patients. For businesses like MOCA, in Chicago, who typically see more than 1,000 customers per day, refusing to service any other customers dramatically decreases their daily foot traffic—protecting employees and immune
compromised medical patients who are at an increased risk from COVID-19.
Although this is a solution, it’s a flawed one.
The Flaws in Forgoing Non-Medicinal Cannabis Sales
Firstly, the categorization of cannabis users into two buckets–medicinal and recreational–is an inaccurate representation of most cannabis users. 80% of cannabis users are not consuming for medicinal or recreational reasons, but rather for a better quality of life. Those suffering from mild anxiety, insomnia, and minor injuries, aches and pains are now unable to access quality-of-life-sustaining supplements.
Not to mention, at a time when anxiety is at an all time high for a large majority of our population, access to cannabis seems more essential than ever–regardless of one’s access to a medical card.
Secondly, there is a high correlation between those who are immune compromised and those who use cannabis–most of whom are unable to leave their houses right now due to the life-threatening risk of COVID-19. Despite the fact that cannabis dispensaries are offering curb-side pick up for these groups, most are under strict orders to remain indoors at all costs.
What option does this leave?
When One Door Closes, Another One Opens
Operating within this public health crisis is not a simple solve for businesses, much less ones that exist in the emerging cannabis industry. However, the COVID-19 crisis is providing a key takeaway for the direction that the industry must evolve in: the legalization of cannabis delivery.
California’s Prop. 64 established a vertical supply chain, one in which retailers are allowed to implement delivery services. States like Illinois can learn from the delivery laws in California, where cannabis retailers have seen surges in daily sales up to 40% since the outbreak—with home deliveries seeing a dramatic jump.
During this global health crisis, with many commercial drivers and hospitality workers out of work, offering delivery cannabis to those whose lives (quite literally) depend on it would be a perfect opportunity to solve two problems with one solution.
As with all emerging industries, implementing effective processes, procedures and legislation takes time. However, we’d be doing ourselves (and others) a disservice if we didn’t cease this opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons and push for cannabis delivery legalization. Inclusivity and accessibility to the life-changing benefits of cannabis should be a priority for citizens at all times.
If you believe your community deserves access to the products they need to stay healthy and safe I ask you to join me in creating a motion for legal cannabis delivery in Illinois for current operating dispensaries.
You can do so in just a few seconds by adding your name to our open letter to the state. Legalizing cannabis delivery in Illinois will ensure everyone has access to potentially lifesaving self care. We thank you for your support. Share with a friend to create change together.