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Could Cannabis Help Save the Post-COVID Economy?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc globally. In the U.S., with more than 3.3 million confirmed infections and at least 135,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus, states and municipalities struggle to allow businesses and the public to resume “normal” activities while implementing pandemic protocols.

After four months of self-isolation and lockdown orders, businesses and individuals anxious to return to some sense of normality went back to restaurants, beaches, and other public venues and may have sparked spiking infection rates, especially in the West and Southern states.

The State of Florida, which has no statewide mandatory facemask directives, broke a record Sunday by registering more than 15,000 COVID-19 infections in a single day.

In California, where new cases have ranged between 6,000 to more than 9,000 per day since July 1, Governor Gavin Newsom rolled back reopening the state. As of July 13, all restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theatres, zoos, and museums must close indoor operations. Additional restrictions apply in certain counties.

Growing frustration over the economic slowdown and lack of clear progress in slowing the pandemic make it apparent the effects of the virus may be around longer than heralded by the most optimistic predictions which called for a vaccine by the end of the year.

Out of the box ideas, including federal cannabis legalization, are likely to become part of the national conversation going forward, as America looks to new industries to help fill the void left by businesses that have gone under during the pandemic.

Staunchly conservative publication The National Review published an op-ed by writer Zoe Zorka titled, “Federal Marijuana Legalization Is the Cure Our COVID-Ravaged Economy Needs.”

Zorka wrote, “… gains would come from two primary sources: decreases in money spent enforcing drug prohibitions and increases in tax revenue. As state, federal, and local officials look for ways to cut law-enforcement costs, an almost $43 billion reduction in the amount spent annually enforcing marijuana prohibition would be a huge help. Releasing nonviolent offenders convicted of minor marijuana charges from jail would alleviate the burden on an already-overburdened criminal-justice system. And expunging such offenders’ records would allow them to reintegrate into the labor market more smoothly, giving them a fairer chance to break the cycle of recidivism.”

The article also pointed out the desperate need for cannabis industry jobs, which offer employment opportunities to a broad spectrum of workers.

Michigan-based cannabis producer Green Peak Innovations (GPI) updated the company’s pandemic response. GPI co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Radway said, “While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a fluid situation, our entire team is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of our employees, maintaining the quality and integrity of our products and inspiring people everywhere to feel better, live better, and do better.

“Our team has worked tirelessly to support the growing demand from our patients and customers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to safeguard the health of our customers and employees. I am both incredibly proud and inspired by the way our employees have rallied in their support of one another and the organization. Their resolve has put us in a position to emerge from this period of uncertainty stronger than ever,” Radway continued.

Like many legal cannabis businesses, GPI was declared an essential service and has continued to operate and even make significant progress during the pandemic.

“GPI opened three new Skymint retail stores, with two located in Lansing and a third in Traverse City. These new locations opened successfully for curbside pickup and anticipate welcoming guests into brand new sales floors when conditions are deemed to be safe for both customers and employees,” the company said.

GPI also added two brands to its product lines: Jolly Edibles, launched in partnership with local Short’s Brewing Company, and a value flower line called Two Joints, “with a portion of every product sale going to the Last Prisoner Project in support of the organization’s clemency efforts.”

New York-based CBD producer Fusion CBD has put forth a call-to-action for its Hemp for Our Future initiative, which will encourage CBD producers to donate product to local pandemic frontline workers.

“Hemp For Our Future is a social responsibility campaign that connects industry leaders with community needs. This initiative involves a network of businesses supporting the production and donation of hemp-based medical and household materials and hemp foods to help medical professionals and others experiencing the devastating impacts of COVID-19,” the company said.

“We have a deep appreciation for those frontline workers who selflessly give to save others,” Fusion CBD Co-founder Adam Kurtz said. “During this unprecedented time, we felt moved to donate products that help keep them safe and also help to repair and heal hardworking hands and faces.”

Fusion CBD has donated hand sanitizer and additional products to the New York Professional Nurses Union and the town of Warwick, New York.

Revibe Wellness, a CBD producer based in San Diego, California, announced it would extend its wholesale discount to vendors nationally, after seeing success with local retail partners.

“Providing local small businesses with a popular, all-natural CBD product, is critically important for peoples well-being during these tough times,” said Awais Spall, director of business development for Revibe. “Our goal is to inspire other companies to also contribute a lending hand to support the small business community during these challenging times.”

The company said 10 percent of proceeds from online sales will be donated to national humanitarian organization Direct Relief.

First posted on mg Magazine


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