Lawmakers have urged Santa Clara County officials to reverse their decision to ban recreational cannabis users from buying marijuana during the COVID-19 crisis.

The country issued a new stay-at-home order last week, which included tougher restrictions for cannabis dispensaries. They are now only allowed to offer in-store and curbside sales to patients with a medical marijuana card.

That left all adult-use consumers unable to buy cannabis during this stressful time unless they can arrange home delivery, which is hard to guarantee. The chief executive of one of the county’s largest dispensaries said consumers are “wildly confused and wildly disappointed” by the decision.

Now councilmembers Pam Foley, Magdalena Carrasco and Maya Esparza have written a letter to county public health officer Dr. Sara Cody imploring her to reverse the decision. “Retail in-store-take-out and curbside pick-up of both medicinal and recreational cannabis are essential to the health and well-being of many Santa Clara County residents,” they said.


California Assemblyman Ash Kalra and Sen. Jim Beall also wrote their own letter to Cody. They said limiting recreational cannabis sales to delivery only will push consumers into the black market.

They argued that the ban could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 by pushing more consumers onto the street to meet illicit dealers. Kalra and Beall also reminded Cody that cannabis has proven medicinal qualities to relieve pain, chronic ailments, and anxiety, which is clearly heightened during these times.

Santa Clara is one of the most populous counties in California, with around 2 million residents. It has the third highest GDP in the world – after only Zurich and Oslo – as it houses Silicon Valley.

Residents have been ordered to shelter in place since March 17 as authorities try to limit the coronavirus spread. Tougher restrictions went in place last week.

However, the ban on recreational cannabis sales has caused a great deal of consternation. Since adult-use marijuana sales were permitted, many patients have stopped bothering to obtain a medical marijuana card, so they are now unable to receive the cannabis they need to treat a range of conditions.

Other counties in the Bay Area initially ordered cannabis stores to close down during the coronavirus lockdown, but they were then deemed essential businesses and allowed to continue trading due to marijuana’s medicinal properties.

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