British Columbia has designated cannabis retailers and producers as essential services, meaning regulated cannabis businesses can keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Essential services are those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning,” wrote B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in a news release issued Thursday.
Such essential services “should and are encouraged to remain open,” says the press release, although they should adhere to COVID-19 guidance provided by B.C.’s provincial health officer.
Unless explicitly ordered to close, B.C. businesses that have not been designated essential and are not included on the province’s essential services list “may stay open if (they) can adapt (their) services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the (provincial health officer).”
The essential services list includes cannabis retailers and producers, along with other retail service provides, like grocery stores and liquor stores.
Farming supply businesses are also deemed essential.
Supply chains for essential businesses in B.C. should also be maintained, according to a background document.
A “Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit” has been assigned to coordinate distribution of goods, and the B.C. government said it “will take a more active role in coordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail.”
B.C. isn’t the only Canadian province to keep cannabis businesses open during the pandemic. Quebec designated its government-owned cannabis stores “priority enterprises,” along with businesses that produce raw materials for those stores.
Ontario has also designated licensed cannabis stores, producers and their supply chains as “essential.”
In the United States, medical marijuana companies have been deemed essential in a number of states, but that designation does not always apply to recreational cannabis businesses.