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Aug. 19, 2022

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Clark County cannabis retailers welcome return of curbside service

State approves revival of walk-up, curb service due to COVID surge

By , Columbian business reporter

Cannabis retailers cheered this week after the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board announced that it would reactivate an allowance for curbside service and other pandemic-era rule changes that had previously expired.

The board granted a series of temporary exemptions last year that allowed alcohol and cannabis retailers to adopt walk-up and curbside service models to help promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, mimicking the approach of the restaurant industry.

Those exemptions were all set to expire July 31, but the Legislature intervened earlier this year and passed a bill to make most of the alcohol-related allowances permanent. Cannabis retailers weren’t so lucky, and had to abandon curbside and walk-up window service when their allowances ended.

LCB spokeswoman Julie Graham told The Columbian last week that the agency wasn’t considering an extension of the cannabis exceptions because the pandemic hadn’t had nearly as much of a negative sales impact on cannabis retailers as it had on bars and restaurants.

But the agency reversed course Thursday, announcing in a bulletin sent to cannabis licensees that it would extend the allowances for curbside service and walk-up windows, as well as an allowance for the distribution of masks and hand sanitizer at dispensaries (Washington’s normal rules prohibit cannabis retailers from giving away any free items, whether they contain cannabis or not).

The bulletin described the renewal as a health and safety decision, citing the large increase in COVID-19 cases since July due to the rise of the more-contagious delta variant of the novel coronavirus, and the resumption of the mask mandate.

The extension includes a new expiration date of Oct. 31, although the board said it would review the allowances in late October to determine if they should be extended again.

The change is welcome news for Clark County cannabis retailers, who said their online sales had suffered in August and that they were frustrated to be unable to offer masks or curbside service at a time when COVID-19 cases were rising.

Columbian business reporter

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