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MARIJUANA MOMENT

Americans want medical marijuana dispensaries deemed ‘essential’ amid coronavirus outbreak, poll finds

People stand in freshly painted circles, six-feet-apart, as they wait in a two-hour line to buy marijuana products from Good Chemistry on Monday in Denver, Colorado.
People stand in freshly painted circles, six-feet-apart, as they wait in a two-hour line to buy marijuana products from Good Chemistry on Monday in Denver, Colorado.Michael Ciaglo/Getty

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

A majority of Americans believe that medical marijuana dispensaries should be kept open as “essential services” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll.

The survey asked simply: “Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be considered essential services?”

Fifty-three percent said the cannabis providers should be regarded as essential, 26 percent said they shouldn’t, and 21 percent said they didn’t know.

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As state governments across the country grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, officials have had to make difficult decisions about which businesses are critical enough to remain open and which should be forced to temporarily shut down. In many states with legal cannabis — including California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey — officials have determined that medical marijuana dispensaries are, in fact, essential services that can continue to operate.

Many states have also given the “essential” designation to recreational marijuana stores, though some have enacted policies stipulating that consumers can only obtain cannabis products through curbside pickup or delivery services to encourage social distancing.

It’s a trend that has reflected the mainstreaming of marijuana in US society, with governments increasingly recognizing that the medicine is valuable and that dispensaries should be treated like other necessary businesses, like pharmacies.

YouGov conducted the new online poll, which involved nearly 5,400 people, on Wednesday.

A breakdown of demographics shows that, as is generally the case with cannabis reform issues, Democratic respondents were more likely (62 percent) than Republicans (43 percent) to agree that dispensaries should be considered essential services. Fifty-two percent of those who identify as independent said the shops should stay open for patients.

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A majority of people across all age groups except those 55 and older said dispensaries are essential.

Read the full story on Marijuana Moment.