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Arizona, Florida dispensaries remain open during summer COVID-19 spikes

As coronavirus cases continue spike alarmingly in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and other southern states, some once-reluctant governors are taking action to shut down gathering places.

Medical marijuana dispensaries remain open to patients adhering to social distancing and good health practices.

On Monday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all bars, movie theaters, gyms, and water parks to shut down for at least 30 days. The order went into effect at 8 p.m. on Monday night, June 29, and will run through July 29.

The order has no effect on Arizona’s medical marijuana dispensaries, which remain open while maintaining safe health policies. Those practices include wearing masks, social distancing, and limiting the number of patients allowed inside at any one time.

Leafly maintains a state-by-state guide to dispensary and retail store operational status under coronavirus rules. It’s updated daily.

Arizona recorded a one-day record of more than 3,800 cases over the weekend, and Ducey said on Monday that he expects “our numbers next week will be worse.” The governor also ordered state public schools to delay the start of classes until Aug. 17.

These Washington Post charts show the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in Florida and Arizona since early June. (Screenshot from Washington Post, June 30, 2020)

Florida: Gov. DeSantis does little

Meanwhile, in Florida, COVID-19 cases continue to increase at an alarming rate. New cases are hitting 6,000 to 9,000 daily.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, has remained reluctant to take action. Florida was one of the latest states to impose coronavirus restrictions, and one of the earliest to open up. DeSantis seems resigned to follow the Trump administration’s strategy of doing little while allowing the virus to run. “We are where we are,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tampa last week.

Florida allowed bars, gyms, and movie theaters to reopen on May 19, and DeSantis has not moved to rescind that opening.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida were never shut down, and state officials are allowing individual business owners to use their own discretion to keep their staff members and patients safe. Gov. DeSantis has recently begun to urge people to wear masks, but has refused to implement any state mandate to enforce the practice.

Texas: Gov. Abbott finally acts

In Texas, the coronavirus continues to rip through the state, forcing Gov. Greg Abbott to act. In recent days Abbott has closed all bars statewide and capped restaurant occupancy levels at 50%. He’s also halted elective surgeries in counties where hospital resources are under severe strain due to coronavirus patients.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and products are extremely limited in Texas, but those in operation are unaffected by Gov. Abbott’s most recent orders.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image
Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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