With COVID-19 closures limiting the access of most services, a run on everything from supermarkets to liquor stores have had stock supplies dwindling and lineups causing headaches for both consumers and store owners.
Uncertainty has also seemingly sent consumers straight for the door of recreational cannabis outlets, a product that has seen a spike in sales since social distancing measures and store shutdowns have taken place.
While Langley does not have a recreational cannabis store just yet, Releaf Compassion Centre on Fraser Highway is the only medicinal marijuana clinic in the city and township.
Tara Caine, executive director of Releaf, said she’s been seeing a major increase in clientele over the past weeks, describing her days as “busy, busy, busy.”
“Being a medicinal clinic, this is people’s medication. And they’re in a situation of not knowing what will be happening in a day, a week, or month,” Caine said.
She has noticed that clients have been purchasing more than usual in the past weeks, though she noted a decline seems to be starting now; but Caine felt that could be due to many of her clients living on a fixed income.
“They can only afford so much,” Caine noted.
The clinic is still open for business, but special precautions have been taken to keep the facility open, even amongst major business shutdowns to limit COVID-19 spread and exposure.
Caine noted that Releaf’s building was a former currency exchange office, and a glass barrier with a slot and speaker to protect employees handling money is now protecting Releaf employees from the virus.
“It forms a gated, closed area – so it makes a great partition,” Caine said.
Additionally, customers can only enter the facility one at a time to be helped with prescriptions.
“Many of them have been with us for five years now, so they understand the protocols in place,” Caine added.
The executive director confirmed that while there has not been an influx of walk-ins, she’s been getting a few more inquires than normal on the benefits of medicinal marijuana and how to apply.
“During dire times, anxiety and stress affects the body,” Caine explained. “And the system takes that much longer due to closures to get approved.”
For people looking for more of a recreational use, she has been referring them to the nearest locations in Abbotsford.
“People are going to start using it more as a coping mechanism from stress,” she explained, adamant there is no danger in the increased use. “The issue is that the mass amounts being purchased leads to retailers and medical stores running out of product.”
Caine is worried about the potential increase in wait times between product replenishment, but noted Releaf deals with a craft grower who has been helping with the supply.
She doesn’t know going forward what that could mean for people who truly rely on the substance as a medicine, but hopes people understand there could be delays going forward.
“Everyone is just trying to do what they can, so please, be patient and be kind,” Caine said.
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