Could cannabis facilities become hospitals to help take down COVID-19?

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The global pandemic has made it pretty clear that weed is considered an essential item for some people, but could the industry that produces it play a bigger role in taking the fight to COVID-19?

One reader thinks so and is encouraging cannabis companies to consider modifying their equipment and facilities to help ease the strain that the coronavirus is placing on the world’s fragile health-care systems. “I hope such drastic measures will not be necessary,” the reader noted, but added the wide range of locations could soon prove invaluable.

“There’s a reasonable number of them across the country, in cities and towns (and) they are likely equipped with facility security, access monitoring and control,” the reader noted of cannabis facilities.

Because many sites are brand new or recently renovated, they also have a lot of the things that would be required to quickly set up a makeshift hospital, the reader suggested. “They have various access-controlled rooms, which can be used for patient separation and staging, (and) they have a strong supply of electricity, excellent air filtration/distribution/heating and water.”

FILE: Washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds can help get rid of pathogens that spread the COVID-19. 

Many cannabis companies are already pitching in wherever they can to help communities that are slowly being overwhelmed by COVID-19. In addition to braving the front lines to keep cannabis available for customers who are slowly going stir crazy in self-isolation, some companies have even repurposed their production facilities to produce hand sanitizer, which is in increasingly short supply.

Ottawa could certainly help expedite efforts on this front by ensuring the cannabis industry gets access to coronavirus recovery measures that have been offered to other sectors. COVID-19 represents an existential threat to many small businesses that haven’t yet had a chance to establish themselves in a competitive industry, let alone help others during a critical time in the country’s history.

According to StatsCan, more than 10,000 Canadians are employed in the sector that represents $7.24 billion of the country’s gross domestic product. Last Friday, the BDC and Export Development Canada announced they would increase loans by $10 billion, but offered little detail about how that liquidity will be allocated or if cannabis companies will be included.

According to StatsCan, more than 10,000 Canadians are employed in the sector.

“We are evaluating the situation as it evolves, including the needs of entrepreneurs and the impact on specific industries,” a spokesperson for the BDC told The GrowthOp in an emailed statement. “We are working on the details on how the program will work, and will share an update in the coming days.”

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