SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Vaccine supply may be scarce, but who can get vaccinated seems to be budding in California.
More groups, like cannabis workers, have been added to the state’s first tier of vaccine distribution before moving onto an age-based system.
“Me, personally, I tried to sign up immediately,” said Danny Kress, a dispensary manager at A Therapeutic Alternative. Eager to be inoculated, the cannabis connoisseur is now eligible by the state for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Cannabis workers who work with medical marijuana are classified as healthcare workers, and therefore considered in Phase 1a of California’s vaccine distribution process. Those who work in grow fields are considered in Phase 1b, as part of food and agriculture.
But there’s some concern over why this group has now become a priority.
“It seems to be more of a luxury than a necessity,” said one Sacramento resident.
Other residents like Nancy Beckman said especially when others are still waiting their turn.
“There are people who needed to be vaccinated ahead of them,” she said. “Like teachers, grocery store workers.”
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The move to add cannabis employees happened on February 5, and it was welcome news for employees across the state. The change also includes other forms of alternative medicine, like massage therapists. The California Massage Therapy Council made the announcement about the state’s “specialty clinics” addition on their website earlier this week.
The state deems these groups to be essential services. Kimberly Cargile, the CEO of A Therapeutic Alternative agreed.
“We have been open, we have been working with the public,” Cargile said, discussing the reasons why the industry was advocating for prioritization.
Kress said their goal was just to be included as essential employees.
“I wouldn’t say we want to jump any lines,” Kress said. “But I think there’s a big misunderstanding about what we do.”
Kress said one of the reasons dispensaries fought to be a priority includes protecting their customers, too. At A Therapeutic Alternative, staff say their customers are mainly seniors of high-risk or people battling other health conditions.