Article by Andres Markwart, Cannabis Life Network
Our neighbours to the south are unenviably approaching 100,000 cases of COVID-19 across the country; the largest count worldwide. Here at home, where a faster and more effective approach to dealing with the spread of the virus – an attempt to flatten the curve – has been implemented, Canada sits at 4,610 cases.
Though fairing far better, both countries have quickly approached heavy stress points as resources dry up, personnel fatigue, and lockdowns on the society we know harden.
While issues such as panic buying and people continuing to not observe social distancing measures are low points, the sense of community, support for our health care workers, and genuine efforts to help the cause have shown through. And the cannabis industry is no different, with many companies, individuals, and the community as a whole stepping up to do what they can during this trying time.
Aurora Cannabis Inc., one of the country’s largest licensed producers, has donated highly sought after N95 respiratory masks to Alberta Health Services. Organigram Holdings Inc., a New Brunswick producer, donated ethanol for the production of hand sanitizer, which spirits distilleries across the country have stepped up to help produce.
With the added support of being deemed an essential service within several provinces, cannabis retailers across the country have done their best to remain open as well, supporting their consumers and patients, during this especially traumatic time, often running on a skeleton crew. Victoria’s VCBC announced earlier in the week that though limiting their hours, they would still remain open several day a week, to continue serving their patients, many of whom suffer from chronic and terminal illnesses.
Speaking to CBC, George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada, noted that they are happy to help cannabis producers connect with the right players to offer their assistance during the pandemic, but also recommended simply reaching out directly to nearby hospitals and health authorities.
“If you have resources locally, reach out to people in the healthcare sector,” he explained.
While the enthusiasm and efforts to help are there, cannabis companies, producers, and labs across the country, had also often found a closed door, when trying to connect with government officials to provide assistance. Many requests have fallen on deaf ears, and in a weird juxtaposition, many cannabis companies have found themselves, at the same time, additionally been turned away from government financial assistance, due solely to the industry within which they operate.