Cannabis and Coronavirus: Adapting, Contributing as Global Markets Adjust

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LOS ANGELES — As debate about reopening the U.S. economy intensifies, so does the need for resources in the cannabis industry and other industries, globally. The COVID-19 crisis has spiked unemployment numbers and economic uncertainty to unprecedented levels; still, cannabis and hemp businesses continue to contribute and adapt.

Cannabis industry workers, advocates, and consumers have also prepared for a 4/20 unlike any other; like most cultural events for the foreseeable future.


San Jose, California-based cannabis producer Caliva, for the month of April, announced its “It’s a Joint Effort” initiative. “Throughout the month of April 2020, the campaign will both recognize and honor Caliva’s staff who are part of California’s essential workforce, helping to serve customers and community in need during the current ‘shelter-in-place,’” said a company press release.

With many cannabis businesses having been deemed essential services during the crisis, retail employees especially are on the front lines of working with the public, while others work to keep the supply line running efficiently.

“Given the unique degree of responsibility that comes with remaining operational in the midst of a global pandemic, we do not take the Governor’s designation of cannabis being ‘essential’ lightly,” said Caliva Chief Executive Officer Dennis O’Malley.

“We believe, and know from experience, that we are essential to the overall health and well-being of many Californians who rely on plant-based solutions for a wide range of functional benefits and medical needs,” O’Malley added. “That said, we are deeply grateful for our associates’ hard work and commitment to our cause—the least we can do in return is provide the extra support they require and keep them exceptionally safe each and every day.”

Agricultural services company Douglas Plant Health posted a COVID-19 resource page for farmers, where industry members can find links to emergency funds, loans, and stipends available to farmers in some regions. The list also includes links to organizations collecting donations for those affected by the pandemic in the agricultural community.

“Farmers need our support now more than ever,” the company said. “To those who work tirelessly to make sure we’re fed, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and stand arm-and-arm with you through this difficult time. If you have resources to add, email us at [email protected].”

Ontario, Canada-based cannabis retailer High Tide Inc. last week re-opened its thirty Canna Cabana retail stores, with most employees recalled from pandemic-related lay offs and ramped up delivery service to serve customers. The company noted that it was closely monitoring COVID-19 guidelines from Canadian government officials. Customers can place orders online or by phone.

“High Tide is committed to providing all of our customers across Canada with access to legal and safe recreational cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Raj Grover, High Tide president & chief executive officer, in a press release.

“To ensure we are putting the safety of our customers and employees first, the company has implemented significant measures including click-and-collect ordering, curbside pick-up, hand sanitizer dispensers, increased surface cleaning, hand-washing procedures, and door management where required,” added Grover.

Industry producers and extractors continue to contribute to the arsenal of resources needed by healthcare workers and other essential employees, to fight the battle against coronavirus.

Las Vegas-based automated harvesting equipment manufacturer GreenBroz, Inc. shifted part of its production operations to focus on automated application of its “Gard’n Clean chlorine dioxide (Cl02) system, which can be used in healthcare settings to sterilize personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the current need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We were in a unique position to be able to shift our efforts to the design and production of a system which can address an immediate and urgent need in the midst of this current crisis,” said GreenBroz Chief Executive Officer Cullen Raichart. “We want to be part of the solution and are excited that we have a prototype ready to go, and are currently seeking FDA ‘fast track’ approval.”

A company press release continued: “Gard’n Clean Cl02 is an EPA-registered, FDA approved, OMRI organic certified, and NSF listed sterilant. The PPE remediator technology is eco-friendly, requiring no special handling or disposal. The activated solution has a neutral pH. Therefore, it is exceptionally gentle and aids in retaining the integrity of fibrous material.”

Oregon-based Vanguard Scientific announced its Project Terpenes-Clean. “This endeavor aims to bring together the world’s best botanical scientists in an effort to develop a powerful terpene-powered hand cleaner,” a company press release said.

The extraction equipment and services company will also share its “formulation and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a new terpene-extract hand cleaner,” as open source material for developers that are formulating plant-based sanitizers.

“The Vanguard Scientific-created hand cleaner takes guidance from the CDC-provided recommendations for alcohol-based hand sanitizer and adds powerful plant-derived compounds, known as terpenes, that may boost the mixture’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral effects,” the release continued.

“Like all industries, the botanical extraction industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. As a company working with clients to target specialized botanical extracts, we’ve focused on finding opportunities to help in the fight against the virus,” said Matthew Anderson, chief executive officer at Vanguard Scientific. “We know that traditional healers have used plant-derived compounds as powerful medicine for centuries, so we’re offering our expertise to the rest of the industry so others can join us in creating a soap-less hand cleaner that leverages industry science and increases the supply of hand cleaning products.”

Medical cannabis multinational corporation IM Cannabis Corp. announced it has put investments on hold due to the pandemic, and will refocus efforts on its European operations located in Germany and Israel.

“In the past month, we have witnessed unprecedented challenges to world health and the global economy due to the spread of COVID-19. We at IMC were very quick to take proactive measures in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. At IMC, our priorities are to protect the health and safety of our employees, to continue delivering high quality medical cannabis to our patients, and to maintain our strong balance sheet,” said IM Cannabis Chief Executive Officer Oren Shuster.

“Consequently, we will be deferring investments made as a part of our innovation strategy, but the growth of our operations in Israel and Germany will continue unabated given the significant long-term market opportunity for the IMC brand and the essential nature of providing medical cannabis to our customers and patients. We wish for everyone to stay safe and remain in good health,” he added.