As fear over the coronavirus mounts in the U.S., industries as diverse as commercial airlines, the stock market, and retail are starting to feel its effects. And if you’re a medical marijuana patient, you may be wondering how the global event could affect your access to cannabis.
The first thing to know is that the supply of legal flower, or “bud,” shouldn’t be heavily affected because legalization measures mandate that cannabis must be cultivated and sold in the same state. But when it comes to hardware, like vape pens and batteries, it’s a different story.
Unsurprisingly, many vaping supplies are manufactured in China. And while some factories there have reopened, many remain closed—or are operating at less than full capacity. This disruption in the supply chain makes it very likely that shortages of these types of goods will be felt by U.S. marijuana patients and consumers. Even things as seemingly-ancillary as shortages in Chinese-made packaging could slow down supply.
Medical and adult-use marijuana legalization efforts could also be impacted by the spread of the virus. There are two ways states can legalize medical marijuana: through the legislature and the ballot box. In states where voters decide, fear of coronavirus could negatively impact signature-gathering campaigns like those underway in Arizona, Idaho, and Arkansas. And if the virus sticks around through summer and fall, it could affect voter turnout in the 2020 election, which will see legalization measures on ballots in New Jersey, South Dakota, Mississippi, and possibly a handful of others.
Events like 4/20 celebrations and cannabis business or science conventions are likely to be affected by the virus, too, as people opt to keep their social contact to a minimum.
In the meantime, there are precautions we can all take—such as regular hand-washing and avoiding sharing medical marijuana products, like joints, vapes, and pipes.