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California medical marijuana retail workers top teachers on vaccine priority list

California medical marijuana retail workers top teachers on vaccine priority list
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California has updated its coronavirus vaccine guidelines, placing medical marijuana workers before some teachers, bus drivers, and food and agricultural workers.

As The Orange County Register reported, the decision has generated polarized reactions from educators and those in the medical marijuana industry, with some in the latter group pointing to marijuana's use for medicinal purposes.

Educators, however, have criticized the decision, the newspaper noted.

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"Cannabis delivery drivers before school bus drivers and teachers? Makes no sense to me," Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner tweeted after news of the update came out.

“Cannabis industry employees are included in Phase 1a for medicinal cannabis and Phase 1b Food and Agriculture for growing, production, storage, transport and distribution. Medical cannabis workers should be accommodated as necessary in Phase 1b, Tier 1, by nature of their designations in eligible essential workforce classifications,” the updated guidelines read.

The Register noted that some counties have opted not to follow the state's new guidelines.

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Jessica Good, a spokesperson for the Orange County Health Care Agency, said the office is not currently vaccinating medical marijuana retail workers at its distribution sites.

Cannabis entrepreneur and United Cannabis Business Association President Jerred Kiloh told the newspaper that the 30,000 medical marijuana retail workers service about 300,000 patients and customers a day. 

"We need to protect them as front-line workers, because that’s what they are," Kiloh said. "It was a win for cannabis industry to be put into the medical side of things."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in California thus far, with roughly 1.5 million having received their second dose.