The California cannabis sector can officially maintain operations throughout the coronavirus pandemic after the state deemed it “essential”.

Gov. Gavin Newsome has issued a statewide shelter in place order directing people to stay in their homes and limit travel to essential trips. It came after the number of coronavirus cases in California soared past 1,700 and the death toll reached 35.

Authorities are battling to contain the outbreak and they have ordered all bars, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses to close. Essential businesses like grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, health care facilities, pharmacies, and banks are permitted to remain open, and cannabis stores now fall into that category.

Marijuana businesses across the state signed a coalition letter to the governor last week and they have lobbied local governments to allow them to remain open.

The State Public Health Officer released the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers list, with cannabis featured twice. Cannabis retailers were classified under the Federally Qualified Health Centers section, and workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplement retail were included in the Food and Agriculture section.

The list does not specifically include manufacturing and distribution, but the California Cannabis Industry Association believes the food and agriculture listing is sufficient to cover the entire supply chain.

Last week, 10 Californian counties issued shelter in place orders, and marijuana dispensaries were ordered to close in those areas. However, retailers in San Francisco quickly reopened after the Department of Health clarified that marijuana has medical purposes.

Retailers celebrated after gaining the “essential” status. They said it displays a commitment to stamping out the rampant black market in California.

Most Californians are adhering to the shelter in place act. That has led to soaring cannabis sales, as orders increased 66% by volume in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and previous records were smashed.

However, many have defied the advice. “This weekend we saw too many people packing beaches, trails and parks, so we are closing sports and recreation at LA city parks and closing parking at city beaches,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

He said people should stay in and save lives, and that could spark an even greater increase in cannabis sales among homebound Californians.

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