The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced a “Joints for Jab” campaign that kicked off Monday and will continue through July 12. The innovative incentive offers a free pre-rolled joint to customers 21 years or older who receive their first or second COVID-19 vaccine at vaccination sites in state-licensed cannabis retail outlets.
According to ABC News, the board said it received many requests from cannabis retailers to help support the state’s vaccination program. A previous promotion by the board provided free wine, beer, or cocktails to those 21 years and older who got vaccinated by June 30.
So far 48% of Washington State’s population is fully vaccinated, compared to 42% of the U.S. population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cannabis craze is also popular in Arizona, where pop-up dispensaries are offering Moderna vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis. Their program is called “Snax for Vaxx” and vaccine recipients over the age of 21 receive a free pre-rolled joint along with an edible cannabis gummy, according to USA Today.
“So many states declared cannabis retailers and employees as essential early on in the pandemic,” said Ben Mervis, a New England-based cannabis marketer. “This is a poetic opportunity for them to not only give back but to incentivize efforts to create safer, vaccinated communities.”
The Biden administration has stepped up its efforts to administer at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of American adults by the July 4th weekend. The government has also increased its attempts to reach all eligible candidates, offering perks such as free childcare, complimentary travel to vaccine sites, and other incentives to sweeten the pot. Several states are offering college tuition and lottery prizes to lure people into getting their vaccines and so far, the incentives are working.
For example, Ohio’s “Vax a Million” campaign launched in May saw a tremendous uptick in people rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated. More residents were vaccinated in one day after the announcement than in the previous three weeks according to WebMD.
But experts say that while the number of vaccinations is increasing because of these giveaways, there will always be a core group of people who are vaccine-hesitant and need to be scientifically convinced of COVID-19 vaccine safety before they get their jab.
“For individuals who don’t have confidence in the vaccine or in the vaccination program, these giveaways are not likely to overcome their concerns,” Dr. Robert Bednarczyk, assistant professor of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University in Atlanta, told WebMD. “We still need to work with our communities to understand their concerns.”
“I worry that while we may see some people getting vaccinated because of these incentive programs and because of these giveaways, that these more flashy types of programs may distract from that day-to-day, on-the-ground work that our public health practitioners are doing.”
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