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Washington offers free cannabis to boost Covid-19 vaccine uptake

Policymakers have found a novel way to convince young people to get the vaccine



Recreational cannabis has been legal in Washington since 2012

Policymakers have long been concerned it might be harder to convince young people, who are less likely to fear serious illness from Covid-19, to get the vaccine.

One US state has come up with a novel idea to get round that problem: ‘joints for jabs’.

Washington is allowing pre-rolled cannabis joints to be handed out to people turning up to get their first or second dose.

It’s hoped the policy will coax reluctant or nervous adults to vaccine centres as the state looks to drive up its inoculation rates.

Washington was among the first states to legalise recreational cannabis use.

Washington set itself a target of reaching 70 percent protection before the planned lifting of restriction on June 30 – but the state isn’t quite there yet.

According to health department data, the 63.88 percent of people older than 16 have ‘initiated vaccination’ as of 7 June.

The announcement by the state’s liquor and cannabis board that dispensaries can hand out incentives came after Washington’s cannabis industry actively sought to get involved in an initiative launched by the drinks industry.

Vaccinated people have been able to get a free beer or cocktail at many bars in the state since mid-May.

The joints for jabs scheme can be access by anyone aged 21 or older and runs until mid-July.

Recreational cannabis use has been legal in Washington since 2012 when it became one of the first states to liberalise drug laws.

The federal government recently changed rules to give states access to relief funds in order to cover the costs of programmes designed to incentivise vaccine uptake.


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