Cannabis Startups Have To Cope With Coronavirus (COVID-19). Preserve Supply Chain.
Leveraging Technology and Best Practices To Make It Through A Health Crisis
By: WeedClub CEO, Evan Horowitz, Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 12:35 PM PT
Prohibition might not have been the biggest threat to the successfulness of the cannabis supply chain it turns out. In the face of a public health crisis, how will we manage risk to protect our families, workers, teams, patients, customers, and researchers in the cannabis industry?
It was not a coincidence when Xoom stock went bonkers as the virus got worse and more health bulletins were posted. Common sense would tell you that less human interaction during a virus breakout would cause a shift in how we do business.
In China, food deliveries became contactless. The name and body temperature of both the person who prepared the food and the delivery person became essential additions to the packaging. People have to eat and still need things during a pandemic, so food delivery is an ideal endeavor to migrate almost enitrely to delivery apps until it is safe to revert back to normal. We can do the same with weed.
Startup expert Elad Gil, who has an exit to Twitter under his belt, posted a useful PSA on his blog recently. There is a lot of helpful advice in the post for preventing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), such as best practices for fist bumps, handling gas pumps and door handles.
The part of the blog post that is a warning shot is the part about viruses like Coronavirus, such as Spanish Flu & H1N1 Flu in the UK, having a second wave of outbreak.
The good news is that after the second wave, the public's immunity is able to overcome the outbreaks via "herd immunity".
We have heard a lot about how only people with an underlying or secondary health condition die from Coronavirus, however that number of people is a huge number of people. The cannabis industry is still handling a Schedule I drug that is illegal at the federal level. During a pandemic, we have to make sure that medical cannabis patients continue to have safe and easy access to marijuana.
Without banks and credit cards, how can we get to a contactless transaction if need be? This problem is a waterfall effect from Prohibition on down the supply the chain.
I Co-Founded WeedClub® in part to solve this problem.
Now, I'm speaking up because the industry is no longer a "Vice" industry that is the same as tobacco or gambling. Weed is a wellness industry. Collectively ensuring that the wellbeing of our customers, industry teams and families is entact is a building block for successfully changing the paradigms about weed forever.
People's health depends on it.
Some care about the way an outbreak could ruin economic matters. Economically, the industry is currently viewed as a government cash printing machine. Outrageously high regulatory and tax issues cause prices at the dispensary register to be way too high. Yet, patients barely complain. To have access to medical marijuana is life changing.
For all the great tips that Elad Gil shared click here.
Here are the Startup-related Tips he shared:
"3. What should a startup do?
In the absence of a vaccine or effective medicines,
- Encourage hand-washing. You can watch a video here for best practices. You may want to add a few purell dispensers around the office as a reminder.
- Wipe down work areas regularly. There is some evidence suggesting the virus may stick around for at least a few hours, if not more, on surfaces. You may also want to wipe your phone down on a regular basis.
- Encourage flu vaccination. This will decrease health burden on hospitals and also prevent people from getting the flu and thinking they have COVID-19.
- Zero tolerance sick policy. Anyone who is sick, or starting to feel sick, should take a sick day or work from home.
- Curtail travel and conferences and move to video calls. Your employees may generally want to decrease travel and in particular avoid countries where either COVID-19 has started to spread (China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand) or if you want to be extra cautious, where it is highly likely to spread (Indonesia, much of the middle east due to Iran spread, most African countries with strong China ties).
- Curtail visitors from other countries. A number of companies are starting to adopt a “no visitor” policy for people traveling from the countries listed above and they suggest moving such meetings to a video call.
- Plan for the remote work contingency. It is worth planning how your company will work if the virus takes off in your country, or in countries where your employees work. Do you adopt a work from home policy or other approaches? What is the threshold for work-from-home? Coinbase has a guide like this.
In addition, individuals may want to plan for a situation where either (a) they are or their loved ones are impacted by supply chain issues or (b) their city or region is placed on lock-down, or they are asked to self quarantine for 14 days or more. This is a “worst case” “abundance of caution” backup plan and each person can decide what they want to do.
The primary aspects of this may include:
- Make sure your family has 2-3 months of medicine. If a loved one is taking a medicine or drug regularly, you may want to ensure a few months extra supply. Approximately 60% of common pharmaceuticals are partially manufactured or packaged in China. FDA has just announced the first shortage due to supply chain issues in one drug.
- Plan for the unlikely event you can not leave the home for 2 weeks due to isolation or quarantine.This may impact food or other planning. Alternatively, countries may meter the number of people who can enter a supermarket at a given time.
- Plan for caring for a sick loved one. If hospitals are temporarily overwhelmed, family members who get infected, or who have pre-existing medical conditions, may experience delay in care. Plan ahead for your specific situation.
4. Macro economy & fundraising
Data from the 1918 flu and other epidemics suggest that social distancing and related techniques (shutting down group activities, sports, schools, etc.) can drastically change the impact of an epidemic on a per city basis. For example, St. Louis had half the death rate of Philadelphia in the 1918 flu (see references below).
The CDC has already hinted it would enact these techniques if needed, and we are already seeing lock downs of regions not only in China, but also Italy and Korea. The shutting down of businesses due to worker movement, lack of free movement, travel for business, and tourism should impact the global economy. Relatedly, a number of companies are already seeing their supply chains impacted due to a dependency on China for everything from car parts to the chemical components of medicines and pharmaceuticals.
The economy has already been impacted, so the primary question is on length and degree of impact.
Usually when a macro storm is looming, and you are running a startup, it is a good idea to raise money so you do not need to in 6 months when times may be bad. If your plan is to fundraise in 3-6 months, it might be worth considering doing it now."
Thank you to the cannabis industry pioneers who are the reason the industry exists today. They preserved genetics, supplied patients, had nowhere to enforce contract diputes, had their federal civil rights violated like we wrote about yesterday, and they never got any love for it. The weed industry has to welcome more diversity and become more inclusive. This is another reason I Co-Founded WeedClub.