Ontario liquor and cannabis stores will remain open

Published Mar 31, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
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Cannabis product sales at dispensaries all across Canada have skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the country, as people rushed to stock up on necessities in preparation for total lockdown. Dispensaries saw such an increase in demand that pot producers started to seriously consider making additional runs to keep the shelves stocked, but as it turns out, there was really no need for anyone to panic.

As of March 23rd, the provincial government of Ontario took the lead by announcing a list of essential services that could remain open, forcing thousands of Canadian businesses to close temporarily. This was done in hopes of flattening the curb, which is meant to keep our hospitals from exceeding capacity. A dangerous situation that could cost many lives, but some citizens were shocked to learn that two of the exceptions on the newest list of closures, were beer stores and cannabis dispensaries.

Liquor and cannabis dispensaries labeled essential services

Though it seems that many concerned Canadians cannabis enthusiasts jumped the gun a bit early out of fear that dispensaries might end up closing, there are still plenty of people out there who do not have the privilege of doing so for financial reasons, and for them, these highly debated stores are incredibly important.

Late Monday night, the provincial website was updated to include a list of essential services, which basically means companies and businesses that will be allowed to remain open during this uncertain time. The companies listed here are those that the government believes are essential to the health and wellness of the community, which means that it would do more harm than good to close them down, so they are given the option of staying open to serve the public.

Technically, all cannabis dispensaries are allowed to stay open for the time being, but some are opting to close out of fear for their employees, and shortages have slowed weed delivery through vendors like OCS, which is the provincially run online cannabis store for Ontario. So while most locations appear to be holding strong in hopes of serving the public and continuing to make money throughout this ordeal, don’t be surprised if you find that some have limited their services only offering weed delivery, or have closed down completely.

Liquor stores are also on the list, but it’s not for the reasons that you might think. While most people think of the beer store as a luxury that they can do without, for some, cutting off this supply could be devastating. Unlike cannabis, beer, and alcohol, in general, is not a medicinal product, but it is something that thousands of Canadians rely on daily.

So these stores have been granted special privileges, but only because the move will keep alcoholics stable and out of our local hospital beds which need to stay free for potential COVID-19 cases, and so patients can access their medicine. Especially now that community spread has been established, and it's becoming clear that out hospital resources are about to be tested in ways that we have never seen before.

Will these essential services ever shut down?

Those who have cannabis jobs or rely on this essential service are wondering how long this pandemic will last, and whether or not employees of dispensaries, beer stores, and LCBOs will have the privilege of staying home with their families like everyone else. Unfortunately, there is no way to know just yet how long it will last, and the truth is that the Canadian government has made it clear that nothing is off the table when it comes to combating this deadly virus.

It is entirely possible that they could close down completely in the future, and in the meantime, all we can really do is hope and do our best to abide by social distancing precautions which will help to decrease the length of time that we have to endure this kind of uncertainty. So, stock up if you can, and enjoy one of the few luxuries we have left while dispensaries and liquor stores remain open because at this point, and over the next several weeks, anything is possible.

OCS warns customers to expect delays

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