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Friday, March 20, 2020

Illinois Weed Stores Still Open, Declared 'Essential Services' During Pandemic

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 3:06 PM

Collinsville's Illinois Supply and Provisions remains open, but has changed its protocols to prevent the crowds the dispensary has seen in the past, as in this photo from January. - LIZ MILLER
  • LIZ MILLER
  • Collinsville's Illinois Supply and Provisions remains open, but has changed its protocols to prevent the crowds the dispensary has seen in the past, as in this photo from January.

If you thought a little something like a global pandemic would stop the tax revenue bonanza that Illinois has been enjoying ever since the state legalized recreational marijuana, buddy, you thought wrong.

In what is surely good news for bi-state area bored stoners and medicinal patients alike, both Illinois Supply and Provisions (1014 Eastport Plaza Drive, Collinsville, Illinois; 618-381-9229) and The Green Solution (2021 Goose Lake Road, Sauget, Illinois; 618-663-4311) remain open for business even as increasingly stringent measures to control the spread of coronavirus cause other businesses to close.



In a trend that is true across the nation, the dispensaries throughout Illinois have been deemed "essential" by the state of Illinois and therefore immune to more strict lockdown orders, falling under the same guidelines as pharmacies.

Still, that doesn't mean everything is business as usual.

Illinois Supply and Provisions announced this week that it would discontinue walk-in sales and only accept orders placed online, in an effort to reduce crowds.

“The safety of our employees, customers, and especially vulnerable patients, is our top priority,” says Kathleen Olivastro, regional director of Ascend Wellness Holdings, Illinois Supply & Provisions' parent company, in a statement. “We understand this decision may impact some more than others, but believe it is in the best interest of everyone to make this change in the short term. We are taking direction from local, state and federal health experts as we work through this.”

When we called the Collinsville store to inquire about the new procedures in place, an employee who answered the phone explained that all customers who place an order through the dispensary's website will receive a notification via email or text when their order is ready to pick up.

"Once you get a confirmation that your order is ready then you can come to the Gateway Fun Park and you can park there and show the guard your confirmation," the employee tells RFT. "They'll put you in line for the shuttle to be able to come pick your order up. Once you get in line here then we kind of keep you spaced so far apart until you get to the register to pay and check out."

The Green Solution, likewise, has made dramatic changes to its protocols in light of the threat of COVID-19.

"Right now all of our Illinois locations remain open — as you probably have read they have been designated as essential businesses along with pharmacies, so they have been open and they will continue to remain open until we expect to hear anything else," says Michael Perlman, executive vice president of investor relations and treasurer of Jushi, the Green Solution's parent company. "We are taking actions in-store to maintain the health and safety of our employees as well as our customers."

Those actions include sanitizing high-touch surfaces, deep cleaning and sanitizing work stations, sanitizing and washing hands after every transaction, Perlman explains. The dispensary is also ensuring that hand sanitizer is available to both employees and customers, suspending all use of paper menus, and suspending all use of demo products.

"Anything that would be touched or handled by our employees or customers, we are eliminating all of the use of that," Perlman says. "We're also, when we can, we're positioning staff at every other register. We're also requiring all customers to remain six feet apart."

Taped marks on the floor designate where patients are to stand, Perlman says, and cones outside do the same. He says that customers are also encouraged to wait in their cars until it their turn to be called in.

Even with all the strict measures, and even despite the widespread orders for social distancing, Perlman says business is positively booming. Demand is not down, he says — in fact, quite the opposite.

"I think folks are making sure that they get what they need while everything else is closed, and they probably are stocking up a little bit given that they don't know whether or not these locations will remain open," he says. "That has yet to be determined. As far as we know they will remain open.

"We've received positive feedback from each of our states' representatives in terms of keeping them open, and we will do so," he adds. "And we will do so in a safe way for both our employees and customers."

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