Richmond cannabis stores mellow after being deemed essential service

Richmond cannabis stores mellower than grocery stores
Photo credit: 7 Stars Holistic Health Center Facebook.

By Mike Kinney

After a rush in business at the onset of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, local cannabis retailers say their stores have mellowed out somewhat. And now, the focus is on safety.

The initial announcement that non-essential businesses would close during the shelter-in-place order prompted an uptick in sales at cannabis shops, with customers aiming to stock up in case they wouldn’t be able to access the products. Both Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed later deemed cannabis shops an essential service and thus able to remain open, easing those fears.

John Withey, director of operations at Green Remedy Collective 2928 Hilltop Mall Road in Richmond, said his shop went from an upswing in business to a bit of a downturn since the start of the shelter-in-place order. 7 Stars Holistic Health Center, at 3223 Pierce St. in Richmond, noticed a 30 percent increase in sales in the first few days the order, said Executive Director Zee Handoush.

“At that time we were concerned we would be able to keep getting our supply of medicinal marijuana, so we started limiting purchases,” Handoush said. “So we are down a little business, but not too much.”

Rebecca Vasquez, owner of Holistic Healing Collectives at 15501 San Pablo Ave., also noted business “has been a little slow.”

All shops say they’re taking heightened steps to ensure social distancing and sanitation.

“We are using the protocols that the banks are using,” Vasquez said. “We let 10 people inside and three people in reception. We have line dividers as well to keep people safe. When one patient leaves, we allow another patient to enter. We have pump hand sanitizers available for everyone to use. We are very accessible to all of our patients.”

Curb service is offered at both Green Remedy and 7 Stars.

“Inside our facility when standing in line it is six feet apart, and outside while waiting in line it is six feet apart, so there’s no contact,” Handoush said. “Our cleaning crew comes in the morning and completely sanitize the whole building. All of our staff wears gloves and  masks while maintaining our distance. Our staff is always cleaning and sanitizing as well.”

While marijuana can be medicinal, it’s also known to be a communal activity. Taking the latter part away can be difficult. But at these Richmond shops, the vibes remain good.

“Keep hope alive,” Handoush said. “We know life is going to be different. But at 7 Stars we are going to be here for you and keep things normal.”