Vernon’s Spiritleaf, at 2400 53 Ave., is preparing for a busy 4-20 on April 20, 2020, owner Sarah Ballantyne said, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (Spiritleaf)

Vernon cannabis retailer plans ahead for busy 4-20 despite COVID-19

Spiritleaf says Weed Day can still be celebrated by Okanagan cannabis users, it may just look different

The internationally recognized “holiday” for cannabis users is coming up in a matter of days, and a local licensed cannabis retailer said the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t stop people from celebrating 4-20, but rather change the way they celebrate.

Vernon’s Spiritleaf is preparing for a busy day Monday, April 20, otherwise known as Weed Day.

Every April 20, major events are hosted around the world, including Vancouver’s 4/20 Cannabis Protest Festival, which was set to celebrate its 26th year.

“We were really looking forward to attending this year’s event at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, but this event, like all the others, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Spiritleaf owner Sarah Ballantyne said.

Instead of taking part in major community events, Ballantyne said customers in the Okanagan can still celebrate by going outside and enjoying themselves at a distance.

“Sharing of product is not recommended at this time,” she said.

The pandemic’s byproduct of free time has given Ballantyne’s clientele the opportunity to expand their horizons.

“Many customers are finding they have the time to explore new edibles and beverages as these formats take longer to take effect and often last for hours.”

Ever since Spiritleaf and other cannabis retailers were deemed an essential service in British Columbia on March 26, Ballantyne said she has seen sales increase.

“Some were panic buying, some were just trying to stock up for a few weeks and we have seen many new faces since Canada Post halted the delivery of cannabis via the BC Cannabis Store’s online service,” she said.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Here’s what is considered an essential service in B.C.

Since the essential service label, Ballantyne said another policy was put in place allowing cannabis retailers to accept orders by phone and online.

“With these changes, we have seen an influx of new customers in the store and sales have increased day over day,” she said.

“They (staff) are so proud to be considered essential and are happy with the easing up of regulations such as taking phone orders and our new online select and collect service,” she said. “Having these new resources allow us to still give excellent customer service — just at a distance or in a quicker interaction.”

The health and safety of staff and members of the public the top priority for Spiritleaf and several protocols have been adopted to ensure proper physical distancing and the cleaning regime was enhanced.

The essential services appointment has given Ballantyne a sense of relief, she said.

“We have already been through a lengthy application process (non-medical cannabis licence) and the ability to continue to operate during all of this just solidifies our decision to pursue a licence and we will continue to work hard as we go straight into summer,” she said.

READ MORE: Vernon pot stores see sales rise amid COVID-19

READ MORE: WATCH: Vernon Jubilee Hospital staff gives shoutout to all health-care workers amid COVID-19


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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