Quebec has deemed cannabis stores to be “priority enterprises” and allowed them to remain open during a coronavirus lockdown that begins today.
Stores run by the Société québécoise du cannabis are classified as priority commercial enterprises alongside grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Quebec also permitted alcohol retailers to remain open, ensuring its people can stock up on drinks and weed to see them through a lockdown that runs until at least April 13.
Yesterday the number of coronavirus cases in the province surged past 1,000. Premier François Legault decided to “put Quebec on pause” for three weeks while authorities battle to contain the spread.
Restaurants and bars have had to close, along with many other businesses. “The more we limit contact, the faster we will limit the virus and the faster we will be able to return to our normal lives, so it’s time to be united more than ever,” said Legault.
Most U.S. states have deemed cannabis stores to be essential businesses, but Massachusetts ordered recreational marijuana dispensaries to shut down. It is interesting to see Quebec assign the cannabis industry “priority” status, as it has regularly sought to limit consumption.
The Quebec government has defied Ottawa on several occasions regarding cannabis. It has banned edible desserts and concentrates, battled to prohibit home growing and increased the legal age for consumption to 21, the highest in Canada.
Quebec has also launched eye-catching public awareness campaigns warning residents about the pitfalls of cannabis. However, it has decided that all 40 Société québécoise du cannabis stores open across the province.
The Société said it has put strict measures in place to protect staff and shoppers during these unprecedented times.
Neighbouring Ontario has already permitted licensed cannabis stores to remain open during a provincial emergency shutdown of non-essential businesses. The shutdown in Ontario will last for at least 14 days, but cannabis businesses have been assigned “priority” status.
Marijuana stores in British Columbia have been permitted to offer click and collect ordering and phone orders as a special measure during the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities feel that could help residents practice social distancing.
There have now been almost 3,000 cases of COVID-19 across Canada, and at least 28 people have died from it.
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