Coronavirus: Washington state announces ‘Joints for Jabs’ program to encourage vaccinations

OLYMPIA, Wash. — In an effort to get more of its population vaccinated against COVID-19, officials in Washington on Monday announced that they have approved a plan temporarily allowing cannabis stores to offer “Joints for Jabs,” according to state officials and KIRO-TV.

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Until July 12, cannabis retailers in Washington will be allowed to offer adults over the age of 21 a joint in exchange for getting vaccinated at an in-store vaccination clinic, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said. Officials stressed that retailers were only approved to give out a single, pre-rolled joint to people who get their vaccines in-store, not other cannabis products.

Agency officials said the decision came after they “received multiple requests from cannabis retail licensees to engage in promotions to support state vaccination efforts.”

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Gov. Jay Inslee previously announced a series of giveaways aimed at encouraging vaccine-hesitant Americans to get their shots, including weekly cash drawings of $250,000 and a $1 million drawing scheduled to take place in July.

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Officials in several other states have launched similar efforts, including in Minnesota, where craft brewers and distillers partnered with the government to offer free beers in exchange for vaccines, and Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine previously announced giving $1 million drawings to adults who get vaccinated in the state.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Minnesota offering free or discounted drinks to vaccinated adults

Nationwide, about 52% of the total population has gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 42% of the population -- 139.7 million people -- have so far been fully vaccinated.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Half of U.S. adults fully vaccinated, CDC data shows

Nearly 441,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Washington since the start of the pandemic, according to numbers from the state’s health department. About 5,860 people have died of COVID-19 in the state, according to officials.

>> Related: Coronavirus: New COVID-19 cases fall to lowest levels since last June

As of Tuesday morning, 33.3 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the country, resulting in more than 597,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 173.7 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 3.7 million deaths.