Last evening, Governor Jay Inslee announced a Stay at Home Order for all Washingtonians. This comes as no surprise. Washington has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. Other states have issued similar orders. Most of us saw this coming. 

With this order, the question as to whether cannabis is an essential industry in Washington was answered.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

A statement from Gov. Inslee describes the order.

This Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is similar to orders that other governors, in places such as California and New York, issued last week.

This proclamation will:

  • Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
  • Ban all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
  • Close all businesses except essential businesses.

“The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” Inslee said. 

Violating this order will be punishable by a misdemeanor. 

Cannabis Businesses are Officially Essential

Following Inslee’s speech revealing the order, cannabis customers and those in the industry had questions. Gov. Inslee didn’t specifically mention cannabis retailers in his speech.

Immediately after the speech, The Sesh reached out to Director of Communications for the WSLCB, and even he was unsure.

“That is up to the Governor’s Office,” Smith replied in real-time by email. “My understanding is that we’re following California’s model. In that case, stores are open.”

In the minutes following this exchange, the answer to this question was made clear.

Gov. Inslee provided a list of businesses and their employees considered essential. The list of essential businesses and workers listed cannabis retail as “workers in other medical facilities” along with blood bank workers, mental health employees, and several other medical and medical adjacent employees. 

As for cannabis producers and processors, those businesses considered agricultural, and also considered essential. The list was a little unclear in the language regarding cannabis producers and processors. Cannabis production and processing businesses were listed under the agricultural umbrella as “workers supporting cannabis retail”.

Tara Lee, the Communications Director for Gov. Inslee confirmed that cannabis retailers, producers, and processors will remain open. 

An Opportunity for Greatness

With the state in crisis, the cannabis industry has an opportunity to prove its greatness. We can lead the way by being creative problem solvers, keeping cannabis industry staff and customers safe at all costs.

Cannabis businesses can help keep people employed and keep tax revenue coming in for a state facing a health and economic crisis. Industry leaders have an obligation to be good citizens during this trying time, let’s take it and run with it. 


Image by SounderBruce / CC BY-SA