By Crystal Harrell
The outbreak of COVID-19 has made the cancellation of large-scale events and celebrations an imminent reality for the foreseeable future, but the cannabis-centric holiday, 4/20, is in full-swing this April with local dispensaries offering special deals and enforcing new safety guidelines to be mindful of the social distancing and health regulations. While there might be no 4/20 festivals or parties, marijuana retailers are still thriving in the age of COVID-19, deemed essential and remaining open, while adhering to cautionary measures under the statewide stay-at-home order.
There has been a boom in legal sales of marijuana—a $10.73 billion industry that saw an initial surge in March, just before the quarantine began.
“4/20 is always such a fun day and a holiday that we will absolutely be celebrating! However, COVID-19 and the safety of our local community will always come first,” stated Kenneth Churchill, CEO of West Coast Cannabis Club with locations in Cathedral City and Palm Desert.
In order to avoid long lines and crowds during the pivotal holiday, West Coast Cannabis Club will be offering all the 4/20 specials for the entire weekend, instead of just on April 20th across its three locations. Churchill reasons that this will encourage people to shop ahead of the day, or make it easier for them to schedule a delivery.
“The biggest changes have come in the name of health and safety. Since we are considered an essential business by the state, our focus has been around creating a clean and safe environment for both our customers and our staff,” said Churchill.
In order to comply with the standard safety measures and protocol, West Coast Cannabis Club has implemented some new changes in its stores. There are now outlined areas in the dispensary where people can stand that are a minimum of six feet apart and hand sanitizer is provided upon entry and at the POS station.
The individuals checking IDs and handling payments are also now required to sanitize after every transaction. There will be no un-medicated samples provided at this time and no sample “smell” containers of flowers will be utilized at the West Coast Cannabis Club locations. It is also being enforced that customers may not handle any product they are not going to purchase. Latex gloves are provided for the staff, and they are to instruct retail employees to wear latex gloves when receiving product.
“We obviously agree wholeheartedly that cannabis is an essential health product for thousands of our customers. We have created relationships with countless locals who have shared story after story about how cannabis is necessary for their everyday lives. We are honored to be given this responsibility and we take it very seriously. We believe that we have taken every step we can to ensure that our customers can feel safe coming to get their usual orders,” stated Churchill.
West Coast Cannabis Club strongly encourages customers to pre-order their product to ensure availability and recommends taking advantage of their home delivery option to prevent too many people from visiting the dispensaries all at once. To schedule a delivery, call 760-636-0827.
Another local dispensary in the Coachella Valley that is persisting and flourishing through the COVID-19 pandemic is Palm Royale Collective in Palm Desert. Co-owners Don and Kathleen Wilson report an average of 400 customers per day visiting their store or taking advantage of curbside pick-up.
“We were one of the only dispensaries in the Coachella Valley offering delivery options even before the pandemic started and we really have been growing our numbers ever since we opened,” said Don.
Delivery minimums range from $40 to $75 depending on the city, and to see if you are eligible for delivery or any other questions, call 760-851-3286.
Palm Royale Collective caters to medical and recreational customers with products like flower, tinctures, vapes, waxes, balms, edibles, oils, medical CBD, pet CBD, and accessories.
Coachillum Fest will be a four-day store event to commemorate 4/20, lasting from April 17 through the 20th, and providing a safe alternative for large celebratory gatherings. Coachillum Fest will include up to 50 percent off merchandise, vendor promos, live music courtesy of DJ VEEV, and double loyalty points. Specials will not just be honored in store, but through delivery and curbside pick-up as well.
“The tagline we’re using for this year’s Coachillum Fest is, ‘people don’t just come here for the music.’ It’s for the people, for the experience, and for the healing,” explained Kathleen.
Receiving their license in 2015, Joy of Life Wellness Center is a three- generation family-owned and managed, socially conscious operation. Meredith is interested in bringing natural medicine to the people, especially those who are ill and the elderly population. She has built her whole business around that idea, and knows her customers and patients rely on Joy of Life to provide safer alternative medicine in their lives.
“We have had to think of ways to be more creative in our health and safety procedures. We have been masked, gloved and observing six-foot separation for almost a month here, and we are already known as the cleanest dispensary in town. We also added state-approved curbside pickup. You can order by phone or email and put the money in an envelope in your trunk. We will come out to your car, pop open your trunk, and we put your package in the trunk and get the envelope. Voila! No personal contact at all,” explained Meredith.
As for the missed opportunity for 4/20 gatherings and large parties, Meredith insists that the safety and well-being of those most at risk should take priority. For specific information on deals and specials, call 760-318-1420.
“There will be plenty of time later to celebrate —and what a great celebration it will be!” exclaimed Meredith.