Long lines have been forming at Arizona’s medical marijuana dispensaries, but it’s not necessarily from a rush on sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dispensaries, which remain open, are taking some extra precautions like limiting the number of customers inside at once.
At Nature’s Medicines dispensary on McDowell Road, that meant dozens of patients waiting in the parking lot at times Thursday and Friday, as the dispensary limited business to five customers inside at once.
“Keeping in mind a lot of our patients do have compromised immune systems,” said Sheena Williams, patient care advocate at Nature’s Medicines. “We want to be as vigilant as we can in this time.”
Outside on Friday, the dispensary had five lines for customers to enter and meet with five employees working the counters, ensuring no more than 10 people in the building at once.
Williams said that was in line with the Gov. Doug Ducey’s recommendation that people don’t socialize in groups larger than 10. Normally 35 or so customers can be inside the store, and even then the popular dispensary sometimes has customers waiting outside.
Now, every 20 minutes or so Williams takes a bullhorn into the parking lot to remind waiting patients that they should stand at a distance from one another.
“That’s what we have to do to stay operating,” she said.
Many dispensaries also offer delivery services in Arizona.
If there is an uptick in marijuana sales during the pandemic, it will be apparent in the next monthly report from the Department of Health Services.
Nature’s Medicines gave away free tacos from a food truck to customers waiting Thursday evening.
“Tonight it’s barbecue,” Williams said Friday.
Similarly, MÜV dispensary on Cave Creek Road in north Phoenix has limited the number of customers in the store, leaving customers standing in line outside.
People wait in line outside Nature’s Medicines in Phoenix while waiting in line to get into the store on March 20, 2020.
Not only are there lines, but the staff all wear masks and gloves, assistant manager Sarah Gorbutt said Friday. And while customers normally can smell and handle samples in screen-topped jars, that’s no longer permitted, she said.
“We don’t want to spread anything,” she said.
She said business has actually seen an increase this week, despite the outside lines and added hassle.
Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the state-sanctioned medical and recreational markets are usually a cash-only business. But MÜV has been using a digital payment system to speed up sales.
The dispensary uses a Scottsdale-based company called Hypur to facilitate digital payments, which allows customers to place orders online and show up to the dispensary to pick up the order.
Gorbutt said that it has been popular because customers just have to enter a four-digit pin number for Hypur and not exchange cash, though they still are facing a line.
“However, they wait in a smaller line,” she said.
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