Cannabis stores seeing high profits during stay-at-home order
Last updated 4/24/2020 at 4:12pm
As anecdotal evidence shows demand for cannabis has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, pot shops in Edmonds and the surrounding area are helping customers stock up while also trying to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Customers are purchasing half ounces to ounces of pot at a time now rather than smaller quantities, said Tobias Rowe, manager of Seaweed CBD in Edmonds.
"Being a very stressful time right now for a lot of people, we are making sure we can maintain our customer base and help as many people as we can with our businesses."
On April 2, Gov. Jay Inslee extended Washington State's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" emergency order through May 4. The order banned most gatherings and temporarily shuttered nonessential businesses.
Cannabis stores are considered essential.
As customers are not allowed inside, employees at Seaweed CBD switched to taking orders through a makeshift window. Seaweed CBD is also encouraging its customers to shop online and pick up their orders, which would allow employees at the dispensary to grab their orders and get them going.
On top of that, staff at Seaweed CBD sanitize the store every half hour.
Kushman's Lynnwood has also implemented Gov. Inslee's order by reducing hours and limiting the number of customers in stores.
Kushman's General Manager Kristina Franklin said these actions help give employees more time off as well as enough time to sanitize store surfaces, ATM machines, and door handles with bleach and alcohol.
"Staff wears latex-free gloves," said Franklin. "We have limited the number of customers in the store to one customer per budtender, with no more than three customers allowed in at one time."
Kushman's has been sending any staff members home who are at risk of COVID-19, or who have shown illness symptoms.
So far five staff members have been tested for COVID-19, according to Franklin, and all results were negative.
Edibles and drinks, as both Rowe and Franklin noted, have become more popular than smokable products in recent weeks.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the coronavirus could be "an especially serious threat" to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana, or who vape.
In the appendix of Gov. Inslee's order, cannabis retailers and workers had been defined as essential business and allowed to stay open.
Franklin said that being considered essential was "an honor." It not only allowed them to stay solvent and continue to help their customers, but also supported 35 full-time employees with kids and families, as well as vendors who regularly sell products.
But it was more than just being essential for people relying on cannabis products, Franklin said.
"We have also taken steps to support the local community by donating $500 to each food bank in Everett, Mukilteo, and Lynnwood, as well as $1,000 to Childstrive," said Franklin.
Kushman's has also ordered more than 10,000 masks to donate to hospitals in Washington for all first responders and medical personnel.
– Yilun Lu is a student in the University of Washington's News Lab. This story was written in collaboration with Beacon Publishing.