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SOUTH COAST – As businesses close and people settle in self-quarantine against the COVID-19 coronavirus, the south coast’s marijuana dispensaries have seen a rise in business.

According to Brad Thornburg, manager at Herbal Choices dispensary in Bandon, lots of people have been coming in to buy their daily maximum of products. The dispensaries have had customers coming in buying both recreational and medical items, buying in bulk as they prepare for staying in.

“People have been buying a lot the last few days,” said Theodore, from Mr. Nice Guy in Coos Bay. “People are stocking up.”

Dana Gehrman, owner of Rooted Coastal Cannabis, attributed the sudden spike in business to concern of the shops being closed.

“I think people were getting worried they’re going to shut down shops,” she said. “But we were deemed essential (under the governor’s stay-at-home order), so I don’t think we’ll be shut down.”

The dispensaries have also been taking extra precautions to promote social distancing and compliance with Governor Kate Brown’s ‘stay-at-home’ orders. While they have the option to do curb-side pick-up, under temporary new rules for dispensaries, many have kept their lobby open and restricted how many people are allowed in at a time and how close they can get to everything.

Gehrman said they’re set up to do curb side pick-up. They are also doing a trial run for home deliveries, which they hope to take live later this week.

The businesses have also been taking care to clean and sanitize everything regularly and ensure staff are staying a safe distance apart. Gehrman said they’re doing everything they can to keep customers and employees safe.

“For the most part, we are able to keep our lobby open,” said Brad, adding that they’re ready to switch to doing curb side pick-up if needed.

He also noted that the curb side option is good, since it allows them to serve at-risk customers better by not potentially exposing them to anything by coming inside the store.

So far, the dispensaries reported that everyone has been very supportive and good with the change in rules and procedure. Theodore reported that customers have been good about complying with maintaining distances, not being allowed to touch some items, and other changes.

The Oregon Liquor Commission recently implemented temporary changes to the rules marijuana dispensaries must follow. Among the changes, dispensaries are allowed to serve customers up to 150 feet from the store and in view of security cameras. They must check identification and have a detailed order on file of what is being purchased.

It has been stressed that these are temporary changes during the current pandemic and quarantine period. The allowances are expected to go away once restrictions are lowered.

Reporter Adam Robertson can be reached at 541-266-6043, or by email at aworldnews4@countrymedia.net.

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