In LA County, Pot Shop Workers Get Vaccine Priority Over Most Cops and Teachers. Here’s Why.

California Department of Health guidelines now prioritize cannabis retail workers in Phase 1A alongside doctors and nurses. In LA County, which is following those standards, that means dispensary workers are able to get scarce vaccines ahead of most police officers, bus drivers, and teachers.

The health department considers cannabis dispensary workers to be health care workers as long as their shops sell medicinal cannabis. That’s creating anger and frustration for groups like educators and public safety workers who think they deserve priority over pot shops.

In a column for the Los Angeles Times, Erika D. Smith explains the conundrum public officials — and the governor especially — find themselves in. 

“California really backed itself into a corner on this one — particularly Newsom, given that he was the main proponent of legalizing the sale of cannabis for adult use with Proposition 64 and came to office with strong backing from the industry,” she writes.

Even as the state prioritizes cannabis employees, Gov. Newsom has told the public that there aren’t enough doses to ensure every teacher is vaccinated before schools reopen. That has made some parents furious.

As CalMarijuanaPolicy reported, some counties are bucking the guidelines amid pressure. In San Diego, pot dispensary workers were recently moved toward the back of the line behind law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, and those with underlying health conditions. In response, one supervisor tweeted: “Common sense prevails!”

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that cannabis dispensary employees who sell medicinal marijuana work with extremely vulnerable patients on a daily basis. These include cancer patients and those with an array of other underlying conditions.


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