COVID-19 affected the lives of everyone worldwide in 2020. In the United States alone, it claimed the lives of over half a million people. Immediately, scientists began working on a vaccine. They based their work on years of vaccine research. Eventually, they were able to develop a working vaccine. Frontline workers, such as doctors and nurses, were the first to get vaccinated in late December 2020 and early January 2021. As the year went on, more and more people became eligible to get vaccinated. Currently, over half of Californians are fully vaccinated. In an effort to continue the vaccination campaign nationwide, Biden is establishing a vaccine mandate. It’s very likely that Biden’s vaccine mandate affects cannabis industry. But how?
What is the Vaccine Mandate?
Biden’s Vaccine Mandate is a plan aimed at reducing the number of unvaccinated Americans. There are many steps to this plan. Biden’s administration is using regulatory power and other actions in order to achieve this. Some of the steps they’ve taken towards this goal are:
- Requiring vaccinations for all Federal Workers
- Requiring vaccinations for Independent Contractors that work with the Federal Government
- Requiring vaccinations for Healthcare Workers at Medicare and Medicaid
- Requiring Employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccine
- Encouraging Large Venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry
There is a lot of effort on behalf of the Biden administration to vaccinate every eligible American. Moreover, this is being done in an attempt to keep everything open and avoid another lockdown. It will also ensure that children can safely stay in school. Additionally, the vaccine mandate will limit the damage COVID-19 and its variants cause to the economy.
How Can Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Affect the Cannabis Industry?
Although the cannabis industry is not legal under federal law, we can still expect to see it be affected by the mandate. Biden asks OSHA to order vaccine mandates at large employers. Specifically, they’re asking to require all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. Under these terms, cannabis businesses are included.
The cannabis industry is continuing to grow. In fact, the cannabis industry is one of the few industries that actually grew during the pandemic. This growth is leading to an increasing job market within the industry. Manufacturing and cultivation businesses tend to require a large number of employees in order to run efficiently. It’s most likely that these businesses will be the ones that are affected by the vaccine mandate.
However, it’s still unclear how companies will go about counting their employees. Some cannabis businesses, though composed of many employees, hold several different licenses for different sectors. Meaning, they may have employees in a dispensary for sales, in marketing, others in cultivation, etc. Most of the time, these employees won’t interact with each other or even be in the same building. It may be possible to see these sectors as separate entities or be counted under a singular franchise.
How OSHA will determine the employee count for these businesses is yet to be determined. Making it unclear exactly how many cannabis businesses will be affected.
Vaccine Mandate Effects on Cannabis Industry So Far
As previously mentioned, the cannabis industry has largely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. After the initial lockdown in 2020, people were required to stay at home. This drove a large number of people to buy more weed. Much like other businesses, cannabis businesses had to learn to quickly adapt to COVID restrictions.
This meant there was an investment in delivery and online services. Anything that allowed for minimal face-to-face interaction was incorporated. Quick adaptations allowed for many cannabis businesses to remain open and functioning. This ensured that their employees continued to have jobs and a steady income. Additionally, it guaranteed their trusted and valuable customers had access to their favorite cannabis products.
Eventually, as the year went on and the lockdown did not ease up, cannabis sales decreased. This was due to people losing their jobs and attempting to conserve money. Then, with the help of stimulus checks, employment benefits, and the development of vaccines, there was a rise in sales once again. Overall, the cannabis industry came out in a better place after the pandemic.
Cannabis workers remained working throughout since they were considered essential workers. Cannabis workers were even allowed to receive the vaccine early on in the distribution. They even came ahead of teachers and cops. This caused some criticism from journalists and the general public.