If you ever wonder why Conservatives don’t want Government in charge of anything, here’s another example.
You would think getting stoners in the most Liberal state in America to get vaccinated for free marijuana would work out just fine, but if there’s anyone who could screw that up, it’s our incompetent politicians.
Washington’s new “joints for jabs” program is off to a rocky start, despite being billed as an innovative way to encourage COVID-19 immunizations.
Officials announced Monday that the state’s roughly 500 registered marijuana merchants may begin hosting immunization clinics and offering a single, free pre-rolled marijuana cigarette to any 21-year-old who receives a shot.
It’s one of a number of vaccine incentives being offered in Washington, including free pints of beer, sports tickets, and cash prizes to entice folks who have been hesitant or simply lazy to get vaccinated. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana for adult use, with regulated sales beginning in 2014. In the previous fiscal year, the industry paid close to $474 million in taxes to the federal government.
However, few things are simple in an industry that is illegal under federal law, and the barriers to offering the free joints are high enough that only a few of the state’s legal pot stores have said they will participate, even if they want to.
During a hearing with the state Liquor and Cannabis Board on Wednesday, retailers said they don’t have enough space to host a vaccine clinic. Some health care providers are hesitant to open a clinic on the premises of a marijuana dispensary because they don’t want to jeopardize government funds by assisting in the distribution of an illegal substance. And the promotion is due to expire on July 12 — too soon for clients who would show up for a first dose in mid- to late June to get a second injection.
The shopkeepers also expressed regret over the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s decision to enable breweries, wineries, and bars to give consumers a free drink if they produced proof of vaccination – no onsite clinic was necessary. Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said, “We’re hearing from retailers that they want to be a part of this.” “Why can’t we do it the way the wineries and breweries have done it?”
Board chair David Postman informed them that the initiative was suggested by a member of the business group late last month, which he and Gov. Jay Inslee’s office believed was a fantastic idea.
Early this month, a marijuana merchant in Arizona offered free immunizations in exchange for free joints or edibles, but no other state appears to have a similar “joints for jabs” program.
“We have the upper hand here,” Postman added.
Those aren’t allowed to consume cannabis at licensed stores, unlike alcohol at a brewery or winery, he added, adding that people who displayed their immunization cards at several weed shops could end up with a lot of free joints that could be distributed to children. He further said that the board granted marijuana retailers an advantage that alcohol retailers did not receive: a tax discount on the product they give out.
“I guess I’m just pleading for a little patience,” Postman explained. “It’ll be too bad if it’s not the right thing, because I believe we all need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Daniela Bernhard, co-owner of Seattle’s Uncle Ike’s cannabis store, told the board that the industry is pleased to be involved in immunization efforts, but is “disappointed that our legal and heavily regulated sector continues to be treated differently than our peer sectors in Washington.”
“We can trust adults to pick up a joint and enjoy it later in a legal setting if we trust adults driving with their vaccination cards to get a pint of beer and then responsibly get to their next destination,” Bernhard remarked.
Bernhard claimed two health-care providers had turned down Uncle Ike’s request to organize a vaccine clinic, though she wouldn’t name them.
The Spokane Regional Health District, for example, has not yet been approached by any legal marijuana stores about putting up a vaccine clinic, but it was prepared to respond.
“We would not be able to provide vaccine due to concerns about federal funding,” said Kelli Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the organization.