By A.J. Herrington for High Times

“We applaud these efforts at the state level and are honored to serve governments and medical cannabis stakeholders on behalf of patients.” - Steph Sherer

A new poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that cannabis dispensaries should be considered essential services that are allowed to remain open during lockdowns ordered to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The online poll, conducted by YouGov on March 25, found that 53% of U.S. adults believe that cannabis dispensaries should be considered essential services.

The poll asked 5,369 U.S. adults one question: “Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be considered essential services?” In addition to the 53% who said that medical marijuana dispensaries should be considered essential, 26% said that the businesses should not be and 21% said that they didn’t know.

With jurisdictions around the globe enacting stay-at-home orders to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, cannabis activists in several locales have argued that dispensaries provide legitimate health care services that should be permitted to remain open, just like pharmacies and doctor’s offices. On Wednesday, Steph Sherer, the founder and president of Americans for Safe Access, noted in a press release that “18 states have now declared cannabis businesses essential.” 

Breaking Down The Demographics

Regionally, the YouGov poll showed the strongest support for keeping medical marijuana retailers open in the Northeast, where 57% of participants said dispensaries should be considered essential services and only 26% said that they shouldn’t. Even in the South, where support for deeming dispensaries essential was the lowest, half of the respondents said that they should be. Only a quarter said that they should not be and another 25% were unsure.

By gender, support for declaring medicinal cannabis dispensaries essential was fairly even, with 54% of men and 52% of women in favor. Only 27% of men and 26% of women disagreed and said that dispensaries are not essential.

Democrats showed the most support for keeping dispensaries open, with 62% saying they should be considered essential. Only 43% of Republicans agreed, while 52% of independent voters also said that pot shops should stay open.

By age, 54% of those 18 to 24; 59% of 25 to 34-year-olds; and 56% of those in both the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 age groups said that dispensaries are essential. Just under half, or 47%, of those 55 and older were also in favor of keeping the retailers open.

The poll also showed that those earning $80,000 or more make up the only group by income level with a majority in favor of classifying dispensaries as essential services, with 52%. In contrast, only 48% of those earning less than $40,000 and 45% with an income of $40k to $80k agreed.

Sherer of ASA said that many of the jurisdictions that have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open during mandatory closures of nonessential businesses have enacted several of the group’s recommendations, such as “instructing medical cannabis businesses on how they can make legal temporary changes to their business plans. These include expanding delivery services, allowing curbside pickup, extending the expiration date of state-issued cannabis identification cards, and allowing telehealth visits for new and renewing medical cannabis certifications.”

“We applaud these efforts at the state level and are honored to serve governments and medical cannabis stakeholders on behalf of patients,”  she said.