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'Joints for Jabs' Program Is Not Going Well

Pot shops say health care providers are wary of getting involved
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 10, 2021 4:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – It was designed as an innovative way to promote COVID-19 vaccinations, but Washington’s new "Joints for Jabs" program is off to a rough start. Officials announced Monday that the state's nearly 500 licensed marijuana retailers could begin hosting vaccine clinics and offering a single, free pre-rolled marijuana cigarette to any 21-plus adult who received a shot there. It's one of many vaccine incentives, including free pints of beer, being offered in Washington, where regulated marijuana sales began in 2014. But few things are simple in an industry that's illegal under federal law, and the hurdles to offering the free joints are substantial enough that few of the state's legal pot shops are saying they will participate, even if they would like to do so, the AP reports.

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Retailers told the state Liquor and Cannabis Board during a meeting Wednesday that many don't have the space to host a vaccine clinic. Some health care providers are queasy about setting up a clinic on the site of a marijuana business because they don't want to jeopardize federal funding by being involved in the distribution of an illegal drug. Daniela Bernhard, the co-owner of Uncle Ike’s cannabis store in Seattle, told the board the industry is excited to be included in efforts to boost vaccination, but “disappointed that our legal and heavily regulated sector continues to be treated differently than our peer sectors in Washington.” She said Uncle Ike's effort to host a vaccine clinic had been rejected by two health care providers.

(Read more marijuana stories.)

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