COVID-19 and the government measures enacted to stem its spread have had significant impacts on small businesses across the country. Here we’ll take a look at how the Bureau of Cannabis Control and California’s governor have responded to protect the state’s legal cannabis industry during the global pandemic.

Cannabis Businesses Are Essential

COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019. On March 11, 2020, the director-general of the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

On March 19, 2020, California became the first state in the country to issue a mandatory stay-at-home order. California governor Gavin Newsom enacted the measure in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and create a consistent, statewide response to guide local jurisdictions.

The governor’s order required California residents to shelter in place and non-essential businesses to temporarily close their doors. However, the statewide order allowed certain businesses to stay open.

Along with businesses providing food, prescriptions, and healthcare, the state order deemed cannabis businesses as an essential source of medicine for California residents. As a result, licensed cannabis storefronts as well as cannabis delivery services have remained open under the stay-at-home order.

Like grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses, cannabis retailers must adhere to social distancing guidelines and follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19.

Additional Measures for Cannabis Businesses

Governor Gavin Newsom enacted several other measures to help cannabis businesses operate throughout the pandemic.

  • Executive order N-65-20: this executive order includes a provision to extend medical marijuana identification cards. Under the order, IDs expiring after March 4, 2020 will remain valid for an additional 60 days after the order date of May 19th.
  • Executive Order N-33-20: this executive order includes a provision allowing cannabis businesses with a state commercial license expiring before June 30, 2020 to request a 60-day deferral for license fee payments. California’s leadership hoped this measure would provide financial assistance to licensed cannabis businesses impacted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, cannabis businesses are excluded from federal assistance due to the illegal status of cannabis nationwide.
  • Disaster Relief Program: cannabis businesses are also eligible to apply for disaster relief through the BCC if they’re unable to comply with certain regulations throughout the stay-at-home order. When applying for disaster relief, businesses can also request and obtain approval for implementing curbside pickup.

Getting Your Cannabis Businesses Through COVID-19

California residents have been urged to stay at home and socially distance. While these measures slow the spread of COVID-19, small businesses have disproportionately suffered from the drop in consumer spending.

In California, cannabis businesses are considered essential and can remain open during the statewide stay-at-home order if they continue to adhere to state regulations such as cannabis testing and safety measures outlined by the CDC. For more information about the measures intended to ease the burden on cannabis businesses, visit the BCC website.