• The Acheson Group

Dealing with COVID-19 in the Cannabis Industry

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

With each state controlling its own regulation of cannabis and related products, it has become a constantly evolving industry. Now add the ever-changing challenges of COVID-19 to that, and you have an industry facing a great deal of uncertainty. Like the producers of food and other staples, many companies saw a run on sales of their products just prior to state issuance of stay-at-home orders. But once those orders were in place, cannabis producers and dispensaries were faced with other operational questions – both that of if they are considered essential businesses in their state and how to protect their employees if they are.

Most states that have legalized cannabis and issued shelter-in-place orders consider medical marijuana businesses to be essential services, but they don’t all set the same precedence for recreational cannabis. This picture, too, is constantly in flux, as not all states have issued shelter-in-place orders and not all have legalized recreational and/or medical cannabis. Of those that have done both, according to an April 2 Marijuana Business Daily article, eight states see both recreational and medical cannabis as essential, while 19 states and Washington DC are considering only medical cannabis to be essential.

Although businesses that are deemed essential are able to continue production and sales and keep their workers employed, there are significant COVID-19 challenges that go along with that business continuity. Ever since the first detected case of COVID-19, the situation has changed on a daily basis, making it difficult for businesses to know what to expect and what they can and should be doing for protection. Due to the pandemic, businesses are seeing increased absenteeism, having to implement employee wellness screening, determine how to “social distance” at the worksite, ensure proper handwashing and personal hygiene, and enhance cleaning and sanitation – as well as effectively communicating all this with their employees. As the pandemic continues to spread, the importance of having current updates on and understanding of the situation, and having a contingency crisis management plan, has become imperative.

Just as the HashTAG team helps cannabis and hemp producers and retailers produce and sell safe, quality products through program and policy assessments, risk evaluations, and identification of areas of opportunity for improvement, so, too, is HashTAG able to assist companies in your COVID-19 challenges. HashTAG’s TAG COVID-19 team has developed a daily updated COVID-19 Resources webpage and e-newsletter (subscribe here) addressing virtually all aspects of the virus, business guidance, and planning for a prolonged outbreak to help you meet the challenges while continuing to run your business.

HashTAG also can provide a Customized COVID-19 Solution, to help you prevail through this evolving crisis – to manage the situation, effectively protect your workforce, and enable business continuity while limiting potential brand damage and monetary losses.

Visit the TAG COVID-19 Resource webpage for more information, and give HashTAG a call for custom assistance.


Led by former FDA Associate Commissioner for Foods Dr. David Acheson, HashTAG is a food safety and public health consulting group that provides guidance and expertise worldwide for companies throughout the food supply chain. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, TAG’s public health and infectious disease expertise has been brought to the forefront to assist food businesses weather the increased challenges of employee protection, food safety, and business continuity. With in-depth industry knowledge combined with real-world experience and advanced virtual technologies, TAG’s team of experts helps companies assess their unique situation, address gaps, and deploy best practices to more effectively mitigate risks, improve operational efficiencies, and protect their brand. www.AchesonGroup.com