Guidelines to Allow Prioritization of Vaccinating Cannabis Workers Sparks Debate

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The race to get vaccinated in California is pushing ahead with people from all walks of life making their case for a place in line.

Additional individuals are being added to California’s first tier of coronavirus vaccine distribution, including cannabis workers, which is causing some debate.

“They’re scared too. They’re scared to be there every day,” said Jerred Kiloh, of the United Cannabis Business Association.

Jerred Kiloh is a marijuana dispensary owner and industry advocate, who estimated 90% of his staff has already been vaccinated under original guidelines that allowed cannabis workers to qualify.

That ruling led to a huge debate, with critics complaining other essential workers deserved it more.

On Thursday, the state confirmed the ruling in detail saying that marijuana workers are entitled.

“When you look at the number of retail workers, which equal about 30,000, they help about 300,000 patients and customers a day. So the reality is that is a frontline healthcare worker,” Kiloh said.

Dispensary workers across the state agree.

“I wouldn’t say we want to jump any lines, but I think there’s a big misunderstanding about what we do,” dispensary manager Danny Kress said.

Many other groups have also been fighting to get prioritized in vaccine distribution plans. 

Teachers and those with severe disabilities are still waiting their turn, and not everyone agrees on who should go first.

Dispensaries like Kiloh’s have been deemed as essential businesses since the start of the pandemic, and he says getting his employees vaccinated is the right thing to do.

“When you deal with medical patients in a setting like a dispensary, and there’s this many patients being serviced every day, it is a good idea to not have the people who are providing that medicine to them be at any sort of risk,” Kiloh said.

Cannabis workers like growers and distributors will be eligible to get vaccinated later with food and agriculture workers, according to the state.

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