Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
We had a COVID scare within our crew, and it really put a point on how invasive this virus has become in our daily lives, hiding in plain sight and ready to accept a new host.
Last holiday season, we had crew members calling in sick with the worst case of flu symptoms, symptoms beyond what many had ever experienced before. We stocked the cupboards with garlic capsules, echinacea, vitamin C and any other natural immune system support the crew felt they needed. Masks became common among the trim crew and hand sanitizer was bought in bulk. Everyone was back up to full speed by February when the first coronavirus death happened in Washington state.
When the symptoms of COVID were finally pieced together, those that were grossly ill over the winter believed they had survived it and assumed they were likely immune. The safety precautions we put in place were followed at work but once the day was done, we had no oversight. None of us personally knew anyone who had contracted the virus, nor anyone who knew anyone that had gotten it. Was the risk being over blown?
Working in the business, we pondered if cannabis somehow helped ward off the virus. Does inhaling through the nose and smoke in the lungs kill it? We have a cancer survivor among us that used cannabis during treatment; if cannabis can help combat cancer, could it help combat a virus? The conversations covered all sorts of theories launched from the various “news” sources, all as our country’s case numbers and body counts climbed and national leadership continued to send out conflicting messages.
My husband Bill and I are both in the high-risk age category and both our immune systems are compromised; he has Hepatitis C and I have Lyme Disease, so we took distancing and face masks seriously from the beginning. The crew, being, on average, much younger, had their doubts on the severity of the virus and many assumed they were immune.
I found a company that came to our farm and tested us all for antibodies so we would know for sure. Not one of us had antibodies for COVID-19; it was a real let down.
Then in early July, one of our trimmers reported his grandmother was sick. She was rushed to emergency and placed on a ventilator immediately. She had been in a locked-down senior care facility since March, so there had been no exposure to our crew. She died the next week; rest in peace. We could no longer say we did not know anyone affected by COVID. Our crew member was crushed with sadness that he couldn’t give Gramma any comfort before she passed, and we put him on bereavement pay while he grieved.
Then his girlfriend came down with symptoms in early August, so he dutifully stayed home awaiting the test results. Summer plans were cancelled; we sent people home and doubled down on the protective measures while we waited. Her results were negative, but it had come too close for comfort.
We feel forced into a game of Russian Roulette as we conduct our “essential business.” I am ever grateful cannabis business is considered essential but the lack of a unified plan from our national leadership has placed each state, region, city, business and individual in a precarious situation as we all try to evade being a host to this lurking threat.