Cannabis and Coronavirus: Protecting Cannabis Employees and Customers During COVID-19

May 4, 2020

Retail stores and production facilities selling and supplying medical cannabis are considered essential businesses during the current pandemic. With their doors of operation open, cannabis business owners must take additional precautions to keep both their employees and patients/consumers safe and healthy.

Cannabis and Coronavirus: Retail Facility Best Practices

Retail cannabis establishments must realize first and foremost that those with compromised immune systems may be frequenting their store to purchase medical marijuana. Now, it’s time to consider, evaluate and appropriately publicize protocol relative to employee interactions with customers, including:

  • Enable mobile or order-ahead features along with curbside pickup and contact-less delivery, if possible. Where this isn’t an option, limit the number of customers in the store at a time.

  • Consider moving to appointment-only operations, or on certain days at certain times for those over 65.

  • Reduce store visits by recommending patients order their prescription for the maximum allowable 60 days.

  • Designate an employee to champion personal sanitation and social distancing. Create an entry sanitation station and require all customers to use it prior to entry. Maintain social distance of 6-ft. minimum between customers. Place markings on the floor to designate this.

  • Limit sales to only sealed products.

  • Sanitize high touch points every 30 minutes or less, including ID check booths, display cases, phones, keyboards, etc. and provide adequate PPE for all, including gloves, masks, etc.

  • Install separation barriers, like thick plastic or plexiglass at each cashier station.

Cannabis and Coronavirus: Production Facility Best Practices

While production facilities may not be face-to-face with cannabis customers on a daily basis, they are handling the product the customer will eventually ingest. For this reason, it’s important to conduct a refresh training session on sanitation procedures and new COVID-19 protocol for all production employees. Consider the following critical procedures for cannabis production facilities:

  • Review current production sanitation procedures and adjust accordingly, focusing on high touch points and potentially contaminated surfaces.

  • Review the business’ sick day policy and make sure employees know they can call in sick to work.

  • Sanitize high touch points every 30 minutes or less. Include office items such as keyboard, phones, and kitchen areas.

  • Instruct employees to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, before eating and when touching any communal surface, including door handles and surfaces. Wear PPE equipment at all times while working with cannabis products, including gloves and masks.

  • If an employee coughs or sneezes in a production area, instruct them to do so into the elbow of their outer garment, and immediately change following proper donning techniques. Instruct them to avoid touching their face.

Whether you run a retail or production operation, remember to allow only essential vendors (i.e. delivery, service companies) into the facility during this time and have non-essential staff telecommute, when possible. Some businesses are even considering spliting shifts for the management team as well.

The requirements of keeping an “essential” business open will vary by location and will likely change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Regularly check for changes to the rules of your local jurisdiction.

Contact HUB Risk Services to learn how to develop a business continuity plan that will help protect your business and employees from the unexpected. Get the latest information, guidance and resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help you protect what matters most on our Coronavirus Resource Center.

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