Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, the government has taken unprecedented action to slow the spread of the virus, primarily shutting down non-essential businesses. However, it seems leaving it up to the government to define the difference between essential and non-essential businesses is a slippery slope, since the physical retail sale of Kratom, CBD, and Vape Juice has been effectively banned in some areas based on my experience, since headshops/smoke shops are being targeted as non-essential businesses, despite the fact that Kratom, CBD, and Vape Juice are essential for many millions of people.
For example, where I live the non-essential business ban went into effect, but basically every business remained open, since there are lots of loopholes in the non-essential business law for a business to stay open, since indeed the law is inherently vague.
The first sign of trouble was that a smoke shop owner was arrested in Miami-Dade County, which means he was literally thrown in jail just for operating his business. This seems totally wrong since vape juice, CBD, and Kratom, which are the most common things sold at smoke shops, are very essential for a large fraction of the population.
In other words, now that the government has the power to decide what is essential and what is non-essential, they seem to be using this power to effectively ban Vape Juice, CBD, and Kratom in an underhanded way. It is probably obvious that the government does not really approve of head shops and smoke shops, so of course they would use this opportunity to close them all down.
Indeed, after that news of the police raiding a headshop for simply being open, I ran to get Vape Juice at my local headshop, and it was still open. However, I tried going back to my local headshop 2 weeks later, and they were completely closed. I’ve called their phone number multiple times and there’s no answer, and the voice mail message does not even indicate that they are closed for the Coronavirus. My gut feeling is they got raided for being open as well.
Another local vape store sent me a text the day the non-essential business ban went into effect, saying that they were open but didn’t know how long that would last. Then a couple days later they sent a message saying they had been forcibly closed by the police. However, their ‘online’ orders were still open, where basically people order over the phone and then go to their Vape Juice lab to pick up their purchase. I tried doing such an order, but then the lab unexpectedly closed, and my gut feeling is the police raided them.
I then called roughly 20 smoke shops and headshops, and they were all closed besides 1. In other words, it seems over 90% of physical retail establishments which provide Kratom, CBD, and Vape Juice are closed. The one that was open was a really nice shop, but it was completely hidden and would be impossible to find unless you had the exact address. It cannot really be seen from the street, and that’s probably the only reason that it is still open.
These examples are all from my local area in Southeast Florida, and I can’t say what’s going on in the rest of the country, but likely the targeted shutdown of Kratom, Vape Juice, and CBD physical retailers is happening in many places, despite the fact that for many people those products are essential.
Overall, this is all really bad, since getting rid of all of the Vape Juice stores could force people to go back to smoking tobacco which is super deadly, and really bad at this exact time since the Coronavirus targets the lungs, so scarring the lungs with cigarettes is the exact opposite of what people should do right now. As for CBD, getting rid of all the stores which sell CBD could cause people to go back to using illegal and highly concentrated Marijuana products.
Finally, getting rid of Kratom physical retailers could force people to turn back to dangerous and deadly synthetic opioids and opiates. However, online Kratom vendors are still open across the country for the most part, such as Amazing Botanicals, so no Kratom user should resort to other drugs just because local physical Kratom shops are closed.
Zooming out, some sort of law needs to be enacted in the future that governments cannot decide what is non-essential and what is essential when it comes to businesses, since it is a slippery slope that can lead to the government banning things that people need like Vape Juice, Kratom, and CBD, just because the government supports the big money alternatives like cigarettes and prescription opioids.