Tweed and Tokyo Smoke take the lead and close Canadian pot shops

Published Mar 26, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / PaulMcKinnon

Most businesses in Canada are trying to operate as they normally would, but in an increasingly risky time, sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. As COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country, it has become clear that we, as a society, must act quickly if we want to avoid a disastrous scenario like what is happening right now in Italy.

Some of the biggest name-brand stores in Canada like Toys “R” Us and H&M have closed alongside most government-run facilities like libraries, financial assistance offices, and community centers, but a lot of the smaller privately owned chained stores and businesses are still running out of necessities in hopes of avoiding financial catastrophe.

One of the businesses that seem to be least impacted in Canada, at least for the moment, is cannabis dispensaries. Until now, for the most part, it’s been business as usual in the industry, and in many cases, reports of customers who are stocking up in panic are flooding in at a higher rate than normal.

Many of these facilities serve vulnerable people who require cannabis as a treatment, but with awareness increasing, at least a couple of the market’s big players are shutting their doors to the public, including Tokyo Smoke and Tweed.

Locations impacted

The announcement comes as a shock to Canadian cannabis consumers, but only certain regions will be impacted by it, as select locations within areas with the highest number of COVID-19 cases are the ones who are being ordered to close. Now this information could change in the coming months, so it is important to keep an eye out for updates as the situation progresses, but for now, only the following region's stores will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 23rd at 5 pm.

  • Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba
  • Newfoundland

These three regions will see a total of 23 cannabis dispensaries close along with the Tweed Visitors Center in Smith Falls, Ontario.

The reason

Canopy Growth, who owns both chains, has decided that the risk is no longer worth the gain that is received by customers in these regions, as social distancing is now recommended by public health officials, and the numbers of positive cases continue to rise. To reduce the potential and rate of community spread, human interactions must be limited, and cannabis dispensaries packed with eager customers are now an unnecessary risk for all those involved.

This, in turn, puts all of Canopy Growth’s employees at risk, and so rather than taking the chance of making things worse than they already are, these cannabis dispensaries will be closing, but that doesn’t mean that consumers will have to go without during this difficult time. Luckily, there are a few different options available, including weed delivery, which is much safer during an outbreak of an illness like COVID-19.

How to buy weed now

Tokyo Smoke and Tweed both host online platforms where customers within the designated region can order cannabis products from the safety and comfort of their own homes. So, while some Canadians will have to go without the dispensary experience for a little while, it’s still incredibly easy to stay stocked up. Impacted consumers can order and pay online, and this will help to reduce the amount of interaction and spread of illness within the community.

Should other cannabis dispensaries follow suit?

Cannabis dispensaries have a very important job, as they cater to both medical and recreational patients, but desperate times call for more substantial efforts to curb the climb of COVID-19 transmission. Stores that are able to service customers under safe conditions should be able to do so, but in the end, public health is much more important than easy to access weed.

This is going to be hard on new cannabis dispensaries who have yet to bring in enough money to pay off their investment just to start, but unfortunately, it’s a reality that we all must live with if we truly want to break the chain and combat this illness in an effective manner. It isn’t ideal, and for some, it’s even devastating, but no amount of money is worth more than human life.

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