The Los Angeles Times reports that California’s updated coronavirus vaccine guidelines place medical marijuana workers ahead of some teachers, bus drivers, and food and agricultural workers. Leaders in the cannabis industry had lobbied Gov. Newsom to include their employees in Phase 1B, Tier 1 of the state’s vaccine plan, which includes food and agriculture workers, law enforcement, teachers and other essential workers. Instead:
[T]he California Department of Health inexplicably went even further, allowing those who work at retail cannabis shops to be treated as healthcare workers by being included in Phase 1A, which is underway now. Others in the industry — those in growing, production, storage, transportation and distribution — got bumped up to Phase 1B, Tier 1.
Erika Smith of the LA Times seems sympathetic to the argument that folks who sell marijuana in stores are health care workers risking their lives to promote public health. The deal-breaker for her turns out to be that there aren’t enough Blacks, Latinos, and poor people working at these stores to justify giving them high priority.
Localities aren’t required to follow California’s guidelines and some have already rejected giving marijuana sellers such a high priority. San Diego, for example, has “put the cannabis industry vaccine eligibility behind law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, and those with underlying health conditions.”
This seems like yet another black eye for the Newsom administration. Even in California, common sense hasn’t been extinguished.