State officials in Washington have rolled out a new program called Joints for Jabs that rewards residents in the state who get the COVID-19 vaccine with a free joint. State officials hope the program provides more incentive for people to get the vaccine.
The board limited the time and location for the program. The state Liquor and Cannabis Board is allowing adult-use marijuana retail shops to give away a single pre-rolled joint to those over the age of 21 who get a shot at an onsite vaccine clinic by July 12.
If nothing else, it will provide an indicator of the popularity of pot in Washington. The state also has tried other ways to get people vaccinated, including free sports tickets and prize money up to $1 million.
Goal Is To Vaccinate 70% Of Population
The Joints for Jabs program is designed to rapidly increase the number of people getting the vaccine. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to end all COVID-related restrictions when 70% of the population over the age of 16 gets at least the first vaccine dose, or by the end of the month, whichever comes first.
On May 12, everyone in Washington who is 12 or older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The program allows dispensaries to give a free joint if the person gets the vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on the store premises. The board also said dispensaries must buy any joints they intend to give away from a licensed producer or processor, as well as keep records of every product given away.
The state already allows breweries, wineries and restaurants to give out free drinks in exchange for showing proof of vaccination. However, alcohol-serving establishments do not have the requirement of hosting an onsite clinic in order to hand out free products.
Where Washington Ranks Among the States
The Joints for Jabs program has received a lot of attention nationwide because it’s so unusual. Other states have also tried to incentivize residents to get vaccinated. Ohio, for example, offered a $1 million prize to people who received the vaccine.
While state officials want to improve vaccine rates, Washington already ranks among the fastest states to vaccine its population. As of early June, the state had given the first shot to 58% of residents, according to a database maintained by the New York Times. That is short of the governor’s goal but ahead of most other states.
The top five states with the highest number of people getting at least one dose of the vaccine are Vermont (72%), Massachusetts (68%), Hawaii (68%), Connecticut (64%) and Maine (64%). Washington ranks 13th.