Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 1:58 p.m.
Is marijuana essential during the coronavirus pandemic?
That seemed to be the question this morning as people flocked to Las Vegas-area dispensaries to stock up after Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses closed by noon today to help slow the spread of the virus.
The answer from the state: Yes.
“Licensed cannabis stores and medical dispensaries should only remain open if employees and consumers strictly adhere to the social distancing protocol,” the Nevada Health Response Center said in a statement today, essentially green-lighting dispensaries to continue operating.
The center, which was set up by the governor to disseminate coronavirus information, said it was encouraging customers to use delivery services and not congregate in stores.
In issuing his order Tuesday evening, Sisolak offered examples of essential businesses but did not specifically address marijuana dispensaries.
But Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said that while he couldn’t say there’s been “a directive in writing,” he has “been told by the governors office that, yes, they will stay open.”
Sisolak listed essential businesses as pharmacies, grocery stores, drug and convenience stores, banks and financial institutions, hardware stores and gas stations.
He said nonessential businesses had two choices: find a way to serve customers through delivery, drive-thru or pickup options or close.
Some marijuana dispensaries have already said they plan to stay open during the virus outbreak.
The Source, with locations in Henderson and Las Vegas, said it is maintaining normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily for medical and recreational customers. It is also offering free delivery for orders of $65 or more for customers within 10 miles of either location.
In a statement, the dispensary said it was increasing already stringent cleaning policies and encouraging customers to order online in advance to limit the time they spend in the store and in contact with other people.
“Employees have been asked to prioritize their health and the health of the community and to remain home if they show or feel any signs of illness,” the statement said. “Customers will no longer be able to take part in smelling flower before purchasing, as the flower displays are no longer available to prevent the spread of germs.”
The Apothecarium Dispensary said in a statement on Instagram today that it was “closely monitoring the closure situation in Las Vegas and, as of right now, we will remain open for business. The situation is fluid, however, so we will make sure to update everyone through our emails, texts and social media.”
The Nevada Dispensary Association and its members were working with regulators to implement all directives from the governor and the state Cannabis Compliance Board, Executive Director Riana Durrett said.
While not addressing the situation in Nevada, she noted that other states were allowing dispensaries to remain open, “given their role in providing medicine.”