Washington’s vaccine campaign for “joints for shots” falls flat.
The new “joints for jabs” program in Washington state, which is tied to Covid-19 immunizations, is off to a rocky start.
Officials said on Monday that the state’s roughly 500 registered marijuana merchants may begin hosting immunization clinics and distributing a single, free pre-rolled marijuana cigarette to any 21-year-old who receives a shot.
It’s one of a number of vaccine incentives being offered in Washington, including free pints of beer, sports tickets, and cash prizes to entice folks who have been hesitant or lazy to get vaccinated.
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana for adult use, with regulated sales beginning in 2014. In the previous fiscal year, the industry brought in close to $474 million (£336 million) in taxes to Washington.
However, few things are simple in an industry that is illegal under federal law, and the barriers to offering the free joints are high enough that only a few of the state’s legal pot stores have said they will participate, even if they want to.
During a hearing on Wednesday, retailers warned the state Liquor and Cannabis Board that many of them did not have the space to organize a vaccine clinic.
Some health care providers are hesitant to open a clinic on the premises of a marijuana dispensary because they don’t want to jeopardize government funds by participating in the illegal drug’s distribution.
And the initiative is due to end on July 12 — far too soon for stores to offer a second injection to clients who may have arrived for the first injection in mid- to late June.
The shopkeepers also bemoaned the fact that the Liquor and Cannabis Board authorized breweries, wineries, and bars to give consumers a free drink just by showing proof of vaccination, with no need for an onsite clinic.
Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said, “We’re hearing from shops that they want to be a part of this.” “Why can’t we do it the way the vineyards and brewers have done it?”
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