There’s no question that one of the hardest hit sectors of the COVID-19 lockdowns is the service industry. Restaurants are closed, along with bars and salons and so on. While some states decide to open up despite warnings by health officials, many are keeping these businesses closed under orders, putting a financial strain on workers while Congress fiddles and it looks as though no more federal relief is on the way. As so often happens, people are banding together to help on their own. Enter, Friends In Weed, a group that has been established to help restaurant and cannabis shop workers while quarantines continue.
Sadly, the U.S. has become a growing center of COVID-19, and missteps in the early days meant the country was doomed to a wide spread of the virus. The ideal strategy to stopping a virus as communicable as this one is to literally freeze everyone in their tracks. If there’s no host-to-host transmission, the virus runs its course and dies off in the last patient standing. However, we live in a world where everything is interconnected, and stopping all international travel, let alone travel within the U.S. can’t just come to a grinding halt instantly. Like it or not, the quarantines being enforced in most of the country are largely responsible for the flattened curve. In a way, that’s a very small victory. Unchecked, the virus could have infected tens of thousands within days and overwhelmed hospitals all over the country. Instead, we’re likely to see waves of infection, similar to previous pandemics.
The Friends In Weed group was formed shortly before 4/20, and during a fundraiser over that cannabis holiday, asked cannabis fans to donate at least $4.20 each. Cannabis businesses and coalitions were challenged to pitch in $420 each, or 4.2% of sales. Fun numbers aside, those donations went to a COVID relief fund for first responders, educators and others.
According to the group’s website, they’ve already distributed over $58,000 worth of gift cards for the staff of partner stores, which is about a dozen or so at the moment but they’re looking to expand. The gift cards are for takeout food from local restaurants, making sure the money is staying within the community and circulating to the best of its ability in these difficult times.
The group is also selling t-shirts, much like public radio stations do to raise funds. For a donation of $20, you get a shirt that proudly says, “I’ve Got Friends In Weed” and 100% of the proceeds go to frontline workers and Colorado restaurants. All of these, pardon the pun, grassroots efforts are a nice change of pace in a time of crisis, when nothing seems to be working properly. Here’s hoping more follow suit not just in Colorado but across the country. In fact, many people have. Across the country similar fundraisers are being held to assist everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Until there’s a proper vaccine, we may see these efforts continue.