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A worker at Cascade Herb Company packages an order on Wednesday, May 6, making sure to wear gloves as he handles the products. // Photo by Thomas Hughes

By Makenna Marks

Cannabis dispensaries have been busier than ever, despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Dispensaries are included in the list of essential businesses in Washington allowed to stay open.

 “We’ve been busier, definitely,” said Dominic Ippolito, manager of Smoking Crow, one of the many cannabis dispensaries located in Bellingham. 

Similar to grocery stores and pharmacies, local cannabis dispensaries have changed their shopping experience to uphold social distancing and limit customer interaction. 

Even before the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Smoking Crow had been taking measures to limit customer interaction. 

“We wanted to take measures before it was really forced upon us, so we started doing online ordering only and allowing curbside pickup as well,” Ippolito said. 

Jessica Reed, a third-year student at Western studying biology and environmental science said that although cannabis isn’t essential for her, it is for many others. 

“My husband uses it in place of opiates, as he used to be addicted to them,” Reed said. “My mother-in-law has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibromyalgia and is in chemo, so eating it [cannabis] in a sugar form is the only way she can make her bones stop hurting.”

Reed said that for people like her husband and mother-in-law, going without cannabis for an indefinite period of time would be detrimental. 

Cascade Herb Company in Bellingham has been advertising their curbside pick-up option. Customers are now able to pre-order their products online, and then go pick up their order in the parking lot, after paying and showing ID.  

Danielle Phillips, a third-year Western student studying computational linguistics, has noticed a few changes at local dispensaries. 

“Cascade has a very strict policy on how many people are in the store,” Phillips said. 

Phillips said she was disappointed after she saw that 4/20 sales had been canceled in order to prevent an increase of in-store customers. 

Ippolito said that he has seen customers spending more money than usual, stocking up on products and buying in bulk. He said he became aware of this trend in the middle of March when things started to escalate. 

“You know, we could have been a nonessential company,” Ippolito said. “People were sort of reacting to the rules that were being enforced and saying, ‘Oh, we need to stock up on our medicine now.’”

Smoking Crow offers more than knowledge and advice when it comes to just using marijuana recreationally. They can also set up customers with a medical card if they prefer to go that route. 

Ippolito said before he got into the cannabis business at Smoking Crow, he was used to living in states where marijuana was illegal. 

“When I was finally able to start experimenting and realizing you can actually use this as medicine, I wanted to dive into that and see what more I can find out about this amazing plant,” Ippolito said.

Ippolito said that if cannabis dispensaries would have been shut down, he imagined there would have been an uproar. 

Phillips agrees that cannabis dispensaries should remain essential, and said she uses cannabis to help with her chronic back pain and anxiety.

“In a time like this, it’s something I need to relax,” Phillips said. 


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