While the coronavirus crisis has financially devastated many small businesses, some San Jose cannabis shops are seeing green — despite ongoing restrictions under the county’s health order.
Airfield Supply Co., a 10-year-old cannabis dispensary tucked in south San Jose, reports a massive 400 percent increase in marijuana deliveries since the pandemic began. The company saw some 1,500 customers a day before the COVID-19 crisis, but like other dispensaries in Santa Clara County, it’s been forced to stop selling recreational cannabis at its store to comply with the county’s shelter-in-place order.
“Airfield was founded to serve the medical cannabis community,” said CEO Marc Matulich, “and we remain devoted to ensuring that everyone in our community who needs cannabis can obtain it legally.”
Some industry insiders hoped the ban would be lifted by a revised health order that went into effect Monday, but it maintained the restrictions on Santa Clara County’s cannabis dispensaries. The revised order, however, loosened the rules for certain industries, including construction, gardening, landscaping and real estate.
Under the county’s order, cannabis businesses can only dispense medicinal marijuana on site. Recreational sales are prohibited and can only be delivered to people’s homes. Industry leaders lobbied against the county’s rules, saying it would effectively shutter cannabis businesses which largely rely on recreational sales.
But Airfield officials said they’ve dramatically expanded operations during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the skyrocketing demand for delivery. To keep up, they’ve purchased 11 new delivery cars — including six Teslas — reduced delivery minimums, offered same-day deliveries and increased delivery times by three hours.
The six Teslas are outfitted with GPS devices for San Jose police to track them, as required by the city’s regulations, in addition to lockable containers and front and rear dash security cameras.
“We’ve expanded our delivery program, reduced prices and minimum ordering costs in order to be a better neighbor to our customers and to make it just that much more affordable and convenient for everyone,” Matulich said. “This is really central to who we are.”
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody in mid-March issued the nation’s first shelter-in-place order, closing all nonessential businesses to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Top health officials initially deemed Silicon Valley’s pot shops an essential business, and allowed them to stay open for both recreational and medicinal customers.
Two weeks later, the county’s district attorney determined dispensaries will not be allowed to serve so-called “adult-use” or “recreational” customers inside their stores — only medical customers with a doctor’s recommendation can pick up weed at the shop.
“Non-medical cultivation, supply, and dispensing of cannabis are prohibited, with the exception of deliveries directly to residences,” according to the county’s most recent frequently asked questions. “Dispensaries with a mixed clientele of both medical and non-medical customers can do in-person business only with medical customers.”
But as San José Spotlight reported last month, officials have no way to of enforcing the order or ensuring dispensaries are selling only to medical consumers — especially since Prop. 64 legalized marijuana statewide and blurred the lines between medicinal and recreational users. County administrators said the policy will be enforced by the honor system.
“There is no requirement in the order for any kind of card, or doctor’s recommendation or anything at all,” Santa Clara County Executive Officer Jeff Smith said in a previous interview. “We’re relying on people to be honest about what they are doing and we trust that they will.”
The county’s revised shelter-in-place order expires on May 31.