California’s Cannabis Shops Get Ready For Toned-Down 420 Celebrations

Customers at the F Street Dispensary in downtown Davis on Sunday found plenty of their favorite flowers and edibles for Monday’s unofficial “420” cannabis holiday. But the atmosphere wasn’t really festive.

They also found blue tape on the ground, directing them to social distance, and staff members wiping down all surfaces, a reminder that even the most euphoric of traditions must now adhere to sober health practices.

“We do feel it’s important for people to be having fun during this time and enjoying themselves,” dispensary co-owner Rod Read said. “But with all that’s going on in the world right now, to create a party atmosphere that people may want to congregate around and get close to one another, we just can’t support at this time.”

In March, California designated “workers supporting cannabis retail” as an essential part of the labor force. The goal was to ensure access to medical marijuana, which offers many relief from pain and insomnia.

Stopping outside the dispensary, Nicholas Milligan said he’ll probably do a virtual 420 celebration with friends on the video-conference app Zoom.

“It’s a stressful time,” said Milligan, a UC Davis senior and chemical engineering major. “Obviously, school is still going on for me. So, it relaxes me and helps me manage my school load, which is great for me.”

Dispensaries across the state reported an increase in sales last month as customers feared stores might close, but the bump was short-lived, the Southern California News Group reported.

Read said demand at his shop has been strong and customers are spending more per transaction, especially on economical options such as raw cannabis flower. But he’s also had to make changes.

Some staff with health conditions did not feel comfortable continuing to work. So, he’s reduced store hours and gone from being open seven days a week to five.

Read expects a bump in sales on 420, but will continue to keep customers apart. They’ll find, for example, more markers on the sidewalk to show them where to stand on what, in any other year, might be a more free-wheeling celebration.

“We hate to be seen as the bad guys letting adults know how to behave,” the store owner said. “But now more than anytime, we need to be making sure that they’re respecting other people’s physical space and keeping an adequate distance from them.”