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Santa Clara county suspends recreational marijuana in-store sales amid coronavirus spread

santa clara marijuana dispensaries

Santa Clara County has decided to suspend all marijuana take-out services in an aim to curb the coronavirus spread (COVID-19). But, medical marijuana and the delivery of recreational-use cannabis is still allowed. Cannabis dispensaries in the Bay Area’s most popular county are locking out recreational users under the new orders.

The county has decided to stop allowing in-store purchases for the non-medical clients according to the county’s official website. The change in policy was adopted in the last few days. The recreational users can still have their pot delivered to their homes within the county; but, only those who have doctor’s prescription can pick their marijuana from the stores. 

Even though the medical suppliers can still operate, the county says that suppliers must stop working on the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for recreational use. The county’s Frequently Asked Questions page reads:

“Non-medical cultivation, supply, and dispensing of cannabis are prohibited, except for deliveries directly to residences. Dispensaries with a mixed clientele of both medical and non-medical customers can do in-person business only with medical customers.” 

County officials are yet to respond to the new policy. 

The policy

One attorney who specializes in regulations and compliance in the marijuana sector, James Anthony, said that there is no change in the language used in this ordinance. Thus, he argues that there should not be any change in whether a cannabis dispensary can be considered legal under the order.

He wrote an email:

“It fits well within healthcare operations broadly defined and broadly construed as mandated by the orders.”

Anthony called this change in policy ‘illegal’ and ‘misguided.’ He added that the dispensaries were already actively encouraging the adoption of delivery and pre-ordered curbside pickup services. The new service will limit in-store customer access to the number of cashiers available, which will, in turn, enable the stores to practice strict social distancing and sanitizing measures. 

Anthony added:

“This is an extremely dangerous precedent that threatens cannabis access everywhere in California, and puts cannabis in second-class status compared to all other healthcare operations.”  

Many regions in the United States and globally are adopting strict measures in an attempt to contain the coronavirus spread. The enforcement guidance officers in Santa Clara have been instructed to ensure that everyone followed the new stay-at-home measures except for the essential service providers.

When asked about the newly implemented measures, the San Jose police officials refer people to the county’s FAQ page. In other places in the Bay Area, the counties have responded differently to the issue of recreational cannabis under the original order.

First, San Francisco forced all dispensaries to close their stores, but within a day it changed its position and let medicinal and recreational marijuana dispensaries to operate. According to Contra Costa County’s website, recreational dispensaries are prohibited from operating. However, medical dispensaries can still function normally.

Alameda and Santa Cruz counties still allow recreational and medical marijuana sales in person as of April 2.

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