Cannabis dispensaries across the U.S. and the rest of the world are adjusting their approach to public health, fine-tuning interactions with customers and patients to ensure a safe environment for all (including, of course, employees on the front lines of the business).
Blythe L. Huestis, vice president of retail operations for Jushi Holdings, says that the company worked with its team of medical professionals to device best practices in these uncertain times. Jushi Holdings operates dispensaries in New York and Pennsylvania (as the Beyond/Hello retail brand) and in Illinois (as the recently acquired TGC brand, soon to be converted to Beyond/Hello).
“Our efforts are to protect the well-being of our customers and our employees, as well as the communities we work in,” she says.
Jushi’s latest heath and safety policies lean heavily on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bringing effective “social distancing” practices into the retail environment. At the TGS locations in Illinois, for example, point-of-sale devices are kept behind glass partitions—setting up a natural barrier between employees and patients.
But sometimes the face-to-face interaction with patients needs to be done in a closer environment.
“Our Illinois locations have an express space that’s a private room with a few point-of-sales and it is separate from the main sales floor, which ultimately allows for us to service any of our call-ahead patients,” Huestis says. “We want to be mindful of our patients and their health and any compromised immune systems or issues they may have—and also assist with the social distancing efforts.”
The call-ahead system has been in place for some time now, though the company is eager to promote it to those patients who haven’t yet utilized the streamlined process. Patients can call ahead with their order, then come in and skip the lines. A staffer will usher the patient into a private space to pick up medication and ask any questions.
“Like other businesses, we’re limiting contact and taking these additional steps,” Huestis says. “We’re taking employees’ temperatures when they arrive at work. We’re requiring hand-washing at the start of their shifts. We’re using hand sanitizers and sanitizing work stations between each customers, disinfecting our common surfaces regularly. We’re suspending the need for any display products that would be touched by anybody else, suspending the needs for any shared menus and ultimately trying to take any precaution we can to make sure that our staff feels comfortable.”
The thermometer policy is one of the more aggressive practices in the retail space this past week, but it tracks with the public health imperatives that are emerging from COVID-19 containment discussions. It also provides a baseline peace of mind, Huestis says.
“Maybe they aren’t aware if they’re running a fever too, so we want to make sure that we’re catching anything like that up front,” she says.