Earlier this month the state of Washington announced its "joints for jabs" program, allowing cannabis retailers to give out a free joint to anyone who gets vaccinated on site, and the story quickly made national news. After a slow start, the program is now making a real difference.
Last week, Apex Cannabis hosted a vaccine clinic at its location just north of downtown. They'll be at it again this week, with fellow retailer Cannabis & Glass jumping into the mix as well. So far, it seems that free weed is a pretty good way to incentivize vaccination.
"We have partnered with a local private vaccine clinic that has completed more than 10,000 Covid-19 vaccinations. The clinics offer Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines," Apex's Stacey Peterson says. "Earlier this year their clinic was vaccinating hundreds of people a day. However, recently their three-hour mobile clinics have only been getting three to five vaccinations. They were thrilled with last week's in-shop vaccination numbers of 29 on Thursday and 43 on Friday."
Washington's vaccination rate peaked at just over 70,000 doses per day in mid-April but has fallen to between 25,000 and 35,000 per day in June, according to the state's Department of Health. By comparison, Apex's numbers seem small, but they're critical as the state inches toward the magical 70 percent threshold. As of June 19, the state's vaccination rate was sitting at 67.8 percent.
Cannabis, illegal just a decade ago and seen by many as a threat to public health, is now being used to help push the state over the finish line in the race to end a public health crisis.
"It's time to get creative to achieve our community vaccination goals," Peterson says. "As a society we accept vaccination incentives like beer, liquor and gambling, none of which have any positive medicinal value. The accepted thinking is, 'Let's do what it takes to keep our community safe!'"
UPCOMING JOINTS FOR JABS CLINICS
Apex will host vaccine clinics on June 24 and June 25 from 1-4 pm at their location at 1325 N. Division St. Preregistration is recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.
Cannabis & Glass is set to host three clinics. The first two will be June 24, from 1-3 pm at the shop's 605 E. Francis Ave. location, and from 4-7 at it 9403 E. Trent Ave. location. The third will be on June 25 from 1-7 pm at its 25101 East Appleway Ave. location in Liberty Lake. ♦