After Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a “safer-at-home” order for Florida, people were left questioning which businesses would be considered essential.

The uncertainty led many local medical marijuana dispensaries to see an uptick in sales, as patients scrambled to stock up on their medicine.

Vinit Patel, regional dispensary operations manager of Curaleaf, said the dispensary, which has a location in Port Charlotte, saw a spike in orders over a month ago, after DeSantis issued the order.

“There was a quick shoot up in orders, because people were expecting to be locked up at home for awhile,” Patel said. “People were trying to get as much medicine as they could.”

He said as more news came out, and more influence on staying at home and limiting exposure, Curaleaf came back to a baseline of sales that they’re familiar with.

Lynn Ricci, director of communications for Trulieve medical marijuana dispensary, which has a location in Port Charlotte, said the Office of Medical Marijuana showed a spike in sales in mid-to late March, though the most recent data shows signs of slowing down.

Despite a slight increase in demand, Patel said, Curaleaf hasn’t experienced an increase in wait time, mainly because they have pivoted how they operate.

Curaleaf is offering curbside delivery and not having any customers inside the store. Patients are encouraged to remain in their vehicle. They have the option to order curbside, call ahead, or order online

He added that Curaleaf has also waived their delivery fees for customers.

Patel said that they have seen their delivery orders jump tremendously. The company offers next-day delivery.

Trulieve is encouraging customers to order online. The company will schedule times for patients to come in and pick up their order, to shorten the time they are in the store.

To accommodate online ordering, Ricci said, the entire catalog of products is available for online ordering.

Trulieve has also waived their normal $15 delivery fee for patients 65 or older for a limited time.

“In response to the pandemic, we increased production to ensure that all of our dispensaries were properly stocked for patients without interruption,” Ricci said.

Peyton Moseley, vice president of product development at VidaCann, which has a location in Port Charlotte, said online orders for no-contact delivery and curb-side pickup increased dramatically in the day following the governor’s order.

Moseley said customers have been very understanding as both these methods take twice as much manpower and twice the time on their end, as they are conducting transactions in the parking lot at the patient’s car.

“Given the demand and new protocols for no-contact delivery, patients will likely experience a delay with delivery, versus if they can utilize curbside pick-up options,” Moseley said.

Though, he added that VidaCann is working to make the delivery process as efficient as possible.

Moseley said VidaCann is encouraging their customers to pre-pay online, to limit contact, and the company is offering 5% stackable discount for those who use no-contact delivery or curbside pick up.

In the cannabis industry, April 20 (4/20) is somewhat of a national celebration of marijuana. Patel said the store will not be having any celebrations in the parking lot this year.

“That would be the opposite of what we need to be doing,” he said. “None of that will happen this year, in light of everything going on around the world.”

Ricci said Trulieve will move forward with a “month full of fun surprises.”

“Though we know 4/20 looks a little different this year … we are excited to celebrate with our patients,” she added.

Email: brianna.kwasnik@yoursun.com

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