Ontario drops weed from essentials list amid calls for full intervention

FILE PHOTO: Chemdawg marijuana plants grow at a facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Blair Gable

(Reuters) - Ontario’s government on Friday removed cannabis from a list of essential businesses allowed to operate during the lockdown, as part of its efforts to further restrict contact amid a deepening coronavirus crisis.

The move comes after health officials projected 80,000 coronavirus cases and about 1,600 deaths by month end under current policies, but added the number of deaths could be limited to 200 with “full future intervention”.

Ontario, Canada’s most heavily populated region, has reported 3,255 confirmed cases and 67 deaths.

Cannabis is still a part of the essential services lists in Quebec and British Colombia in Canada, and in several states in the United States.

Besides toilet paper and groceries, people have also rushed to hoard cannabis and alcohol as they prepare for long periods locked inside their houses.

U.S.-listed shares of Canadian pot producers fell in Friday’s session, with Tilray Inc and Hexo Corp sliding more than 8%.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli