Will free marijuana be a shot in the arm for US' COVID vaccine drive?


A bizarre move by the United States' Washington administration on Tuesday saw free marijuana joints offered alongside COVID-19 jabs.

This is the latest in a string of uncanny incentives offered by the US to curb the spread of the virus. Earlier, shotguns, booze and even cash were on the menu.

“The idea is to persuade more people to become vaccinated, helping to control the deadly virus and helping Washington to fully reopen more quickly,” a statement by the state's Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) read.

The LCB's program, fittingly named “Joint for Jabs”, allows legal marijuana retail shops to give away a single pre-rolled joint to anyone over the age of 21 who gets the COVID jab.

Marijuana use is already legal in Washington since 2012. In fact, Washington is the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

“The program is only temporary. It will expire on July 12, 2021,” the LCB has clarified.

Earlier, the Board had given allowances for alcohol and cannabis licensees throughout the pandemic in an effort to support businesses and also to support the vaccine effort. More recently, it provided an allowance for a beer, wine or cocktail to be provided at no cost for those vaccinated by June 30.

Other incentives being offered in Washington include free sports tickets and prize money of up to $1 million.

Earlier, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has informed that the state is seeking to lift all COVID-related restrictions when 70 per cent of those over 16 have received at least their first vaccine dose. This seemingly controversial measure is in an effort to aid that.

US President Joe Biden too had set a target of 70 per cent of the adult population being vaccinated by July.

Over 300 million COVID doses had been administered in the US. However, this account for just 41 per cent of the US population with full protection against the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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