Press Democrat – Cannabis sales soar during pandemic as purveyors scramble to adjust retail, delivery operations

“When Sonoma County’s initial stay-at-home order landed March 17, some local cannabis dispensaries were confused. The regulated industry has evolved a particular expertise operating within legal and legislative gray areas in its recent past, and here was one more knot to untangle.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, in ordering Californians to adhere to a set of safety guidelines in an effort to blunt the spread of the novel coronavirus, had deemed the cannabis trade an essential business, meaning purveyors could continue to operate. But Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase initial orders specified only clearance for medical cannabis, potentially excluding consumers who don’t have state medical cards.

That category had grown to include many people who used a card for years, but allowed it to lapse when state voters approved recreational cannabis and then the county allowed dispensaries to expand into that trade.

‘I remember standing in the store with a woman, she has stage 4 cancer,’ said Alicia Wingard, co-founder of Flora Terra, a Santa Rosa-based cannabis microbusiness, with her husband, David. ‘She was sobbing because she was absolutely frightened. She thought we wouldn’t be open. She was at her limit. She said, “I’ll be out of medicine within a week.”‘

Wingard had her own personal concerns at that time.

‘We had just opened in September,’ she said. ‘I thought if we were not essential, it would kill our business.’

Since then, despite the waves of hardships delivered by COVID-19, there has been a lot of good news for Wingard and others in the local cannabis trade. Mase took only a few days to clarify that recreational marijuana also was essential under local orders. …”

Read the full article by Phil Barber at The Press Democrat.

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