California has declared marijuana dispensaries an “essential” business. Getty Images/EyeEm
California declared marijuana dispensaries an “essential” business. Here’s what selling during coronavirus is like for drivers.
Last year, The Goods interviewed a driver employed by the San Jose marijuana dispensary Caliva, who spent her workdays ferrying CBD and THC products to customers around the Bay Area. She represented a burgeoning network of labor opportunities around the legal cannabis boom; as growers and cultivators spring up in hot spots like Denver, Oregon, and Massachusetts, so too does the need for weed-fluent marketers, concierges, and delivery professionals.
But like every other industry in 2020, the still-young American cannabis sector is dealing with the fallout of Covid-19. On March 19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared dispensaries as “essential businesses” alongside grocery stores and pharmacies, making them exceptions to the statewide shelter-in-place order. For now, that means Caliva drivers are still on the road.
For Bryan, a 57-year old driver who’s been working at Caliva for five months and is being identified by a pseudonym to protect his privacy, the work has never been better. The aftermath of that shelter-in-place mandate sparked a huge influx of Caliva orders. Californians are stocking up on cannabis to contend with their new reality, and Bryan has happily picked up shifts to stay employed and stay active. While he does some tech consulting work on the side, he looks at his marijuana delivery job as a mission; in this moment, as everyone contends with how powerless this pandemic has rendered them, earthly pleasures are some of the only things individuals can control.
We talked about that, as well as the contactless measures he’s taken to keep himself and his customers safe, and the satisfaction he feels in giving his clients something to look forward to amid all this darkness. Our interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
So when did coronavirus start affecting your job?
The biggest change happened the day they announced the shelter-in-place. It happened to be a day I was working at Caliva, and as soon as the announcement came through, our online order system was inundated. I had never seen panic buying, or what appeared to me to be panic buying, like that. The number of orders that came in just skyrocketed. I couldn’t tell you numbers, but from the delivery bags I saw, it was hundreds of percent increase. It seems to have been that way ever since. So many people are concerned about getting their medicine they need, or just a way to escape from being trapped in their house 24/7.
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News