The “Joints for Jabs” vaccination program is slowly starting up in Washingt

It was designed as an innovative way to promote COVID-19[female[feminine vaccines, but Washington’s new “joints for jabs” program is off to a rough start.

Authorities on Monday announced that nearly 500 state-approved marijuana retailers could start holding vaccination clinics and offering a single, free, pre-rolled marijuana cigarette to any adult over the age of 21 who received one there. injection.

It’s one of the many vaccine incentives offered in Washington, including free pints of beer, sports tickets, and cash prizes to attract those who are hesitant or just lazy. Washington and Colorado in 2012 were the first states to legalize adult marijuana use, with regulated sales beginning in 2014. The industry has brought Washington nearly $ 474 million in taxes over the past year. exercise.

But few things are straightforward in an industry that is illegal under federal law, and the barriers to offering free joints are severe enough that few of the state’s legal jar stores say they will participate, even s ‘they wish.

Retailers told the state Alcohol and Cannabis Board at a meeting Wednesday that many did not have the space to host a vaccination clinic. Some healthcare providers are nauseous about setting up a clinic on the site of a marijuana business because they don’t want to jeopardize federal funding by participating in the distribution of an illegal drug. And the program is set to expire on July 12 – too early for them to be able to offer a second shot to clients who might show up for a first shot from mid-June to the end of June.

Retailers also noted with regret that the Alcohol and Cannabis Authority allowed breweries, wineries and bars to offer a free drink to customers who simply presented proof of vaccination – no on-site clinic required.

“We hear from retailers that they want to be a part of this,” said Aaron Pickus, spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, an industry group. “Why can’t we do this like the wineries and breweries did? “

Board chairman David Postman told them it was a member of the corporate group that suggested the program late last month, which he and Gov. Jay Inslee’s office believed was a excellent idea.

While an Arizona marijuana retailer offered free shots as well as free joints or edibles earlier this month, no other state appears to have a similar “joints for jab” program. “We’re ahead on this point,” Postman said.

The requirement that pot stores hold on-site vaccination clinics was in part driven by the fact that people are not allowed to consume cannabis at licensed retailers, unlike alcohol in a brewery or vineyard. , he said – suggesting that people who have shown their vaccination cards to several jar shops could end up with a lot of free seals that could be offered to young people.

He also said the board gave marijuana stores an edge it didn’t give liquor suppliers: tax relief on the product they donate.

“I guess I’m just asking for a little understanding,” Postman said. “If that’s not the right thing, then it will be a shame, because I think we all need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Daniela Bernhard, co-owner of Uncle Ike’s cannabis store in Seattle, told the board that the industry was excited to be included in efforts to boost immunization, but “disappointed that our legal and heavily regulated industry continues. to be treated differently from our peers in Washington. “

“If we trust the adults who drive with their vaccination records to get a pint of beer and then responsibly drive to their next destination, we can also be sure that the adults will take a joint and enjoy it later in a legal framework, “said Bernhard.

Bernhard said Uncle Ike’s efforts to host a vaccination clinic were rejected by two health care providers, although she refused to identify them.

A public health agency, the Spokane Regional Health District, had not yet been approached by any licensed marijuana store about setting up a vaccination clinic – but it had an answer ready.

“We would not be able to provide a vaccine due to concerns about federal funding,” spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said.

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