On March 11th, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization with approximately 118,000 confirmed cases and 4,300 deaths worldwide. Less than four weeks later, both totals have increased more than tenfold with over a million cases and 60,000 casualties in total. With confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising at a startling rate each day, communities around the globe have implemented significant changes in their economic and social structuring to help reduce the spread of the highly contagious virus.
On March 22nd, Colorado Governor Jared Polis put a stay-at-home order into effect throughout the state. Polis’ legislation set mandatory guidelines for businesses across Colorado. Many employees are temporarily out of work until the statewide order is lifted, and some are working from home to minimize their close contact with potentially infected individuals. Some employees whose roles are deemed “essential” under the statewide order have continued to clock in and out of their regular workplaces, with varying degrees of protection from COVID-19’s spread. Naturally, healthcare providers have bravely continued to serve their communities with skillsets and devotion which are more essential than ever. Grocery store employees, postal workers, service technicians and many others have also been deemed essential and braved the risks of the outbreak to meet the needs of their communities.
Does the Stay-At-Home Order Apply to Dispensaries?
To the surprise of many (especially those who don’t identify as smoke shop lovers), cannabis dispensaries were also deemed essential by Polis under his recent mandate. As of February, 81,893 Coloradoans are actively registered to use marijuana for medicinal purposes and 5,609 recently received necessary certification from a physician to register. As with Doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and emergency services, medicinal marijuana is a staple of healthcare for recipients across Colorado. In other words, while Polis’ decision to keep dispensaries functional throughout the widespread closures earned some laughs as a “classic Colorado” stoner stereotype, medical marijuana is an essential treatment option for tens of thousands of Coloradoans each day.
While dispensaries will remain operational, there are a few key changes to their structuring in the face of COVID-19 – which have continued to evolve since the stay-at-home order went into effect. Polis’s exact verbage about new requirements for dispensaries was vague – stating that they’ll remain open as critical businesses but “only for medical or curbside delivery.” This change was put into place on March 24th and is expected to continue through April 10th – or possibly longer if the stay-at-home order is extended.
The openness of this statement has left some dispensary owners confused on exactly how to proceed. As a result, their interpretations and the changes implemented have varied to some degree.
Recreational dispensaries are now only offering curbside pickup on recreational products. Some dispensaries are allowing their customers to approach the storefront, show identification, then place their orders and wait outside. Many are requiring enhanced standards of precaution such as gloves and a higher frequency of hand-washing. Most are allowing their customers to place online orders or call ahead, with their requests brought to them upon arrival. While some Colorado dispensaries allow payment online via credit card, most still require cash-only payment at the time of curbside pickup.
Is Denver Included in this Ruling?
As a home-rule city, Denver makes its own policies which apply beyond those of the state at large. On March 23rd, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced the closure of all of the city’s liquor stores and dispensaries (both recreational and medical) for the duration of the stay-at-home order. However, he reversed his decision later that day. Medical dispensaries and liquor stores within Denver city limits will remain open with social distancing policies in place to help protect customers and employees from spreading the virus. Recreational facilities in Denver will rely upon the curbside pickup of orders placed online or by phone.
What Were the Effects of Hancock’s Announcement?
After the announcement that liquor stores and recreational dispensaries would soon be closed throughout Denver, citizens flocked by the masses to stock up for the coronavirus-induced hibernation. In the hours between Mayor Hancock’s original statement and his retraction later that day, Denver cannabis sales jumped by a staggering 392 percent. Unfortunately, this spike in crowds was exactly what the social distancing orders of our government were intended to prevent. “This caused hysteria and panic, thereby negating the progress we made around social distancing,” said a representative for Denver dispensary Terrapin Station. Furthermore, without advance warning of the abrupt closure, locations weren’t prepared to meet the public demand and many customers went home empty-handed, only to return once stores restocked. Thankfully, his clarification has since helped to get dispensaries and liquor stores back on track in terms of social distancing.
What About My Favorite Smoke Shop?
And now for the question on everyone’s mind: what about 710 Pipes? Our Denver and Northglenn pipe shop locations are temporarily closed in accordance with the statewide order. However, we’re committed to getting our customers the products they know and love including pipes, water pipes, wearables and more. That’s why our head shop is currently offering delivery and drop-shipping orders on a variety of select merchandise. If you’re interested, please give us a shout on our Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, head shop lovers – we can’t wait to see you when the coast is clear!