As many states continue to enforce social distancing plus ask people to stay indoors, the cannabis industry is undergoing unprecedented disruptions. Many states in the U.S have listed medicinal use of cannabis among the “essential services.”
Yet, supply chain concerns, restricted transport, among other factors, are still hampering the field’s outlook. Addressing these issues is key to ensuring dispensaries continue to serve patients effectively. Besides, it helps protect subjects with perhaps high vulnerability to COVID-19.
Depending on the state and section of the industry involved, specific trends have emerged. This article looks at some of them.
1. Buyer behavior
Consumer behavior is changing, including the way subjects get their medical cannabis supplies. Aside from online ordering and delivery, curbside pickup and drive-thru lanes, among others, are methods, many consumers are finding relatively easy to use.
This switch to delivery services aims to limit the interaction between dispensary employees and customers. Similarly, it helps comply with social distancing regulations by discouraging people from going into stores or milling about.
2. CBD Consumption
As more and more people focus on staying healthy and equally boosting their immune systems, these needs are driving consumers to health-focused products, including CBD.
Subsequently, retail operations that avail an e-commerce platform are helping curb the need to bulk buy while also offering support for social distancing measures.
To stay connected with CBD customers, market leaders also have to be creative and identify ways they can build on their brand products—while refreshing where necessary.
For many, this may mean vamping up their online presence, enhancing their social media activities, and engaging with existing and prospective customers.
3. Political setbacks
The current COVID-19 environment is stalling legalization and reform debates as states, and federal policymakers deal with more pressing health and economic issues.
In some states such as New York, recreational marijuana legalization is on the shelf, with several voter initiatives in many states across the country likely to miss the November ballot since the pandemic is preventing lobby groups from collecting the necessary signatures.
But in the long run, industry officials are more optimistic about the legalization and federal reform progress. This confidence is in part due to (even with the pandemic) many states having already classified cannabis as an “essential” business. Basically, this tacitly indicates the recognition of medical marijuana, its benefits, and the need for access.
4. Supply-chain jitters
Along with the shifts in consumer patterns and border restrictions, limited movement of goods is impacting on supply and logistics. These pose challenges in maintaining steady supply lines in the short run as the pandemic continues.
As such, the outbreak and subsequently enforced quarantine is exposing the vulnerability of the marijuana supply chain. Moreover, due to the challenges in sourcing materials like vape hardware and packaging from overseas markets.
A key concern for the industry is how import-dependent regions will cope with supply chain problems even as they look to grow and cultivate marijuana in the coming months. This is certain to result in additional restrictions for patients in need of medical cannabis.
So, even with the limited licensing activities taking place in the Home Office, stakeholders must work closely with regulators to ensure the supply chains remain open. As a result, this step will help patients access their medicine while also curbing the urge for the subjects to resort to black-market activities.
In line with the above notion, some emergency legislation is allowing patients to continued access to medical marijuana during the pandemic from dispensaries. Even so, this relates to patients with ongoing treatment regimens who can obtain a prescription from marijuana clinics.
5. Dispensing Shifts
Due to COVID-19 concerns, health systems and dispensing personnel are under immense pressure to alter their processes and retain patient access to medical treatments, including medical marijuana.
Most of the prerequisites of surviving the pandemic, i.e., awareness, self-containment, and support systems, are basic skill sets provided by caregivers. But looking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, policy shifts, investments, and training may help lift further barriers to medical marijuana access.
Protect All Non-Patients and Staff:
To protect all non-patients and staff – for dispensaries that offer both recreational and medical marijuana products, taking measures to curb patient-employee exposure is an important consideration. Where possible, dispensaries should opt to avail curbside pickup or provide for delivery services for recreational marijuana needs. Alternatively, they should serve medical patients in separate areas away from general customers.
Also, dispensaries should provide for social distancing among customers by limiting the numbers they allow inside the dispensary at one time. This approach can help protect employees, customers, and patients.
Some options will include having no more than two subjects on the dispensary floor at a time. Likewise, this strategy can also benefit from:
- Shifting some sales online or by phone orders for pickups
- Pre-scheduling customers using an appointment only system
- Integrating deli-style number systems to help manage people and encourage them to remain in their cars as they wait
- Posting staff members to enforce social distancing rules while customers wait in the queue
Naturally, it also helps to improve sanitary practices through:
- Provision of gloves for employees
- Periodically disinfecting sales counters (especially after every transaction)
- Scheduling routine sanitizing of the entire store several times a day
- You should also opt to send employees showing signs of illness or those who’ve had direct contact with someone with COVID-19 home.
You may also have to check in patients with a thermometer in hand, screen-out patients with a fever, before bringing them their medicine.
But to keep up with the changing ecosystem, the medical cannabis industry has subsequently rolled out telemedicine as well as online consultation services to enhance patient access.
These are transformative times for the cannabis industry where innovation in production, distribution, and consumption approach will define how the cannabis industry overcomes the COVID-19 challenges.
Are you looking for quality medical marijuana products and services? We’d like to hear from you. Call us at 1-888-578-6704 or schedule an appointment with our certified doctors. For more information, visit Mmjdoctor today!