As most businesses are being impacted by COVID-19, many of Tahlequah’s medical marijuana dispensaries are making changes to their operations.

Some have cut back hours to sanitize more often, and so employees don’t have to interact with the public. Others are offering online ordering and curbside service. That has always been available at Minerva Canna, and it is really encouraged now.

“We send out weekly emails to patients in our system,” said Kodi Dixson, manager, on Friday. “People call or order online at, and then call to make sure their order is ready before heading to the dispensary.”

The co-owner of Lifted Spirits Dispensary, Eric Grim, is also encouraging patients to use technology to mitigate their visit time. They can call in orders or place them online through Leafly, and use curbside pickup. Discounts are available to those who call in or order online: 10 percent for the general public, and 15 percent for veterans.

Keeping employees and patients safe is a top concern for many owners.

Dixson said his staff is keeping the store extremely clean, and they’re sanitizing “consistently pretty much after each patient.”

Grim said they are trying to keep the number of people in the business below the recommendation of 10 by allowing only five at a time in the waiting room and two patients in the dispensary.

“I bought industrialized sanitizer like the hospital uses,” he said. “We’re not letting people smell flower or touch anything.”

Normally, patients could open the display cases and pick up packages and even open jars, but the staff now keeps the cases locked. Staff members are wearing gloves while doing transactions and cleanings.

Employees at most locations are asking patients not to come into the dispensaries if they feel sick, and bosses like Grim aren’t allowing employees who feel ill to work.

As far as patients’ attitudes toward the threat of COVID-19, Grim said it varies.

“We do get a lot of people not worried about it, and others coming in wearing face masks,” he said.

The number of patients has varied over the week, but sales seem to be up.

“The transaction totals are higher here recently. Up until yesterday, it’s been pretty busy the past week or so,” said Dixson. “We have a lot of patients who come in and buy in bulk, anyway.”

More people are buying in bulk because they don’t know what’s coming next, according to Grim. The supply chain could be affected over the coming days and weeks, but Grim hasn’t checked on it recently. He hasn’t purchased product since the COVID-19 outbreak became a local concern. He said while growers always sanitize themselves before entering the growing area, he’s trying to be as safe as possible.

“We’re trying to do what we can do to not pick up product,” he said.

One concern Grim has is that dispensaries not taking precautions will harm patients and the industry. One patient who came in Friday had left another dispensary because the staff there wasn’t taking enough precautions. They were still allowing patients to smell the flower and not taking social distancing seriously.

“It’s a medical program, not recreational. You have to treat it like it’s medicine,” he said. “Some people just don’t care. I’m afraid that’s what’s going to get us shut down.”

He is also concerned the local government may shut dispensaries. Grim hopes the city will do what the state of California has and deem medical marijuana dispensaries as necessary services.

“It’s a medicine people need, especially with anxiety and pain,” he said. “We hope to remain open even if it’s just curbside pickup.”

Mayor Sue Catron said the businesses included on Thursday’s proclamation are really those catering to recreation and entertainment where there are more people spending time in close proximity.

“If they walk in, make a purchase, and turn around and leave, those are not included,” said Catron. “We’re not trying to close or shut down the city any further. It doesn’t mean at some point we couldn’t take further action. It’s so critical that people self-distance.”

Catron noted that the proclamation excluded pharmacies, which Grim hopes include medical marijuana dispensaries.

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