While many countries worldwide, from Portugal to Uruguay, are decriminalizing recreational marijuana, the next question is a bit dicey to answer.
In these current times, where the world is still enveloped in COVID-19, almost everything has been categorized and labelled as essential and non-essential. Going back to the main question: is cannabis essential in these times?
To answer this question, we need to look at the market landscape and its growing spread. Take the most populated province of Canada, Ontario, and how its witnessed growth within the province. Today, no one can walk a mile without passing by a cannabis store in Toronto. Now, this says something about the commodity we’re talking about here.
These cannabis stores have multiplied and contributed to the economy by creating jobs for many people. Not only that, legalization has given this sector a valuable life from the grey or black areas that it was previously lurking in. Speaking of colours, Ontario has changed more colour zones due to COVID-19 than a crayon box. Each time the colour of the zone changes, a different set of rules apply. And when the rules change, so does the category of items that are available to the public. Generally, things are categorized into two sets: essential and non-essential. So, where does cannabis lie? Frankly, it depends on the local government. For example, during Ontario’s April lockdown, items such as crayons, books are other art supplies were deemed non-essential. While all of this is discussed and categorized, how can one of the hottest items on the market, cannabis, not be discussed? While cannabis’ fate is always going to be debated from legalization to being an essential item. (It may as well be the most debated commodity in modern history.
While all of this is being dished out, we can’t help but ask. If alcohol is an essential product, why is cannabis always doubted as being essential or not? In the list of essential places to open, you see a list of grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores.
Even back in November 2020, cannabis retailers pleaded with the government to reopen in the zones that went into lockdown. All the stores want is to be open, like beer and liquor stores. While curbside pick-up is usually allowed in most of these lockdown periods, you can’t simply walk into a store like you can for any liquor store.
Another issue is that, unlike liquor stores, non-regular customers may rely on people working in cannabis stores for selection. It’s been a rough period in general; more lockdowns mean more staff laid off. This debate is nothing new. This cycle has been happening since March 2020.
Moving towards the future, we sincerely hope things get better for Ontario, the country, and the entire world but for the time being, all we can do is hope that cannabis can also be viewed as an essential item like liquor. This cannabis debate will be a long struggle as official provincial liquor stores have been in business for ages. Cannabis has reached so far, but there are still many milestones to cover for a ‘greener’ future. Till then, all we can do is stay safe, select the finest selection from an Ontario cannabis store and take a toke.