4/20/20 Goes Up in Smoke
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Puff, Puff, Wave: It's An Odd Holiday In The Cannabis World

Anticipated for years, 420 in 2020 is going to turn out much different than has been expected.

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Signs in front of Green Lady West in Olympia West about online ordering and corona virus

For years leading up to the year 2020, people who enjoy cannabis (marijuana, ganja, herb, pot, weed, pakalolo, mary jane...) have been sharing memes and jokes about how "in 2020 it will be 420 a whole month." This last week, Washington officials seem to have sent out a memo suggesting just that: Sales for the cannabis holiday should be stretched out to avoid social crowding.

If you don't know why 4/20 has been designated as a special time and date for cannabis enthusiasts, check out one of these detailed articles by Olivia Waxman for Time or Ryan Grim's piece for Huffington Post. They agree the term "420" to represent cannabis consumption was originated in Marin County in the early 1970s and has proliferated internationally since.

Social distancing is a term that causes many people to want to light up more than they could have ever possibly imagined before the year 2020, but once they spark that bowl of cannabis, enthusiasts are not passing the pipe.

On April 10, 2020, Chief Justin Nordhorn, from the Enforcement and Education Division of Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board sent a memo to cannabis licensees and stakeholders outlining measures the agency wanted to make certain were implemented in consideration of the impending holiday.

The memo outlines, "We are counting on you to ensure your store is not a place where people are congregating. That may mean reconsidering sales or promotions you have run in previous years. If you must run promotions, consider offering them across the entire week or month to minimize a rush on a single day that could compromise social distancing measures," possibly continuing the hope for cannabis users that it was still 420 all month long.

The memo goes on to remind establishments of the current laws as well as the guidelines for running an essential business in the midst of COVID19 social distancing measures, including:

Ideas for things to avoid

- Any advertising encouraging 4-20 event participation at your location

- Discounts for product only available on 4-20-20

- Using outdoor advertising to draw large volumes of customers to shop on a specific day

- Vendor days and events where large groups could congregate

- Extra activities such as hiring food trucks and bands

- Tailor advertising to accommodate for physical distancing, such as advertising occupancy limitations or staggered pickup times

- Advertising sales distributed over the entire month of April

- Enacting policies promoting a safe environment to shop, (i.e. commitment to maintaining social distancing by marking six-foot increments on flooring inside and outside of the store and allowance for curbside pickup).

General compliance reminders

- Avoid any cannabis advertising which might be especially appealing to minors. This would include the use of bunny rabbits, colorful candies, Easter eggs, children playing, etc.

- Do not use mascots, costumed characters, or sign spinners outside of your premises

- Do not engage in any giveaways, including free food or beverages

- Avoid selling unauthorized merchandise other than allowed by law

- Do not use coupons or bring-this-to-get-that type promotions

- Do not allow consumption of cannabis upon the licensed premises

- Do not host or promote "smoke friendly" events. The opening or consumption of cannabis is only allowed in private areas, outside of public view. If your event is advertised, and/or charges a fee to attend, and/or is held in a public place, it is likely not a private event.

COVID-19 reminders

All gatherings, including family and private ones, regardless of the number of people involved, are not allowed at this time per Governor's Proclamations 20 – 25 and 20 – 25.1.

Regardless of these restrictions, cannabis businesses in Washington, as well as many other states where cannabis recognized as a critically necessary medication, continue to operate during the social distancing restrictions as the essential businesses they are and have always been.

2020 may be the year that single-handedly took down the circle, or, perhaps, turned it virtual. Each person in their own homes, on their own personal devices, imbibing their favorite cannabis preparation in whatever way they choose. Some sharing via their favorite social media with friends, others sharing via video chat on a phone, still more cranking up the music and drifting out the national and international news.

Happy 420. Puff Puff Wave


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