How the pandemic has halted progress in the cannabis industry

Published Jun 2, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Andreas Steidlinger

Different times today have brought forward the need to develop new ways of doing business in the cannabis industry. Marijuana news is a buzz on how the deadly COVID-19 virus is attacking the industry.  The cannabis industry is on their toes and on a path to deliver the least pain and effect on businesses. Virtual reality is attributed to the cannabis industry being able to be active during this crisis that the world is subjected to today.

Marijuana laws are different throughout the world. However, COVID-19 has no rules like marijuana reform is based on. The virus rules, to some degree, may be in control of the cannabis industry as we know it today.


Jamaica has implemented a Business Continuity Plan to assist the cannabis industry through this pandemic crisis. The plan will help to maintain functionality in the industry while dealing with the virus. Using the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) harvests and other medicinal cannabis operations will be monitored using remote methods.

The continuity of the activities ongoing at licensed sites is a necessary practice for sustainable development within the industry, while the COVD-19 is present to ensure compliance. The CLA also has an interim authorizing herb houses to sell therapeutic and medical cannabis online. The COVID-19 guidelines of the country were formulated with the combination of assistance from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries.

Jamaica is continuing to make adjustments as necessary to ensure the preservation and integrity of the Jamaican medical cannabis industry. Other aspects of the plan involve:

  • Restricting visitors to the CLA office
  • A lobby dropbox for documents
  • The application process will be facilitated through online meetings


The cannabis entrepreneurs in Canada are thankful for the virtual space we all know today. Many have credited the quick moves of the AGCO Canada’s regulator for the speed they had when implementing virtual inspections needed for the industry to continue moving forward amidst the deadly COVID-19 virus.  Ontario, one of the ten provinces in Canada, and the most populated province have a disproportioned number of legal cannabis retail stores.

The quick action of the regulatory body ensured the continuing opening of the much-needed pot shops in this province amidst the virus. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario truly stepped up and has conducted hundreds of virtual inspections since the province of Ontario found itself in lockdown along with the rest of Canada.

Part of the process

The typical process involved for licensing requires multiple person-to-person meetings and inspections. When the emergency order was enacted, the AGCO began using Apples' Face Time app to continue with the process. Thankfully for the cannabis entrepreneur who has invested vast sums of money into the opening of their businesses, the process of opening stores was still able to move forward.


Primary stages in the process:

  • Applicants must have in their possession or applied for a (ROL). Retail Operators License

  • An applicant needs the approval of the location (RSA)
    With the technology of the virtual reality space things are done a bit differently:

  • Issuing of the RSA involves a virtual educational session with the AGCO and applicant.

  • A public notice period is required; if no issues and the store is furnished and ready to go, the AGCO will proceed with the final inspection: a pre-authorized inspection and a preopening virtual inspection.

  • AGCO is paramount in providing the best health and safety measures by utilizing virtual technology to keep compliancy in place.


The world, as we know it today, may have changed in the way business is conducted. The cannabis industry is included in this. Technology is perhaps one of the saviours for the cannabis industry.  Utilizing virtual interaction is maintaining the social distance needed for the sake of the world's health. The cannabis industry is prepared for the changes and is ready to move forward in today's new green space.

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