As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread across our nation, countless medical cannabis patients are faced with the challenge and concern of being able to access their medicine.
There are more than 3 million Americans who rely on medical cannabis for their health and well being (there are more than 500,000 patients in Oklahoma and Florida alone). Many of these patients are critically immunocompromised and rely on cannabis to mitigate or treat their symptoms. Patients who rely on medical cannabis to alleviate their symptoms could be further placed at risk if dispensaries are ordered to completely shut their doors. Further, while health experts debate the potential adverse effects of treating pain and inflammation caused by the coronavirus with ibuprofen and acetaminophen, many patients will seek to turn to medical cannabis to relieve their symptoms.
Like pharmacies, medical cannabis dispensaries must remain open as essential services.
Additionally, while facilities that sell the adult consumption of cannabis may not be deemed essential, they should be able to remain open through the modified provision of services, including offering curbside delivery protocols similar to other regulated industries.
We urge you to work with your Department of Health and other relevant state agencies to implement emergency regulations to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on cannabis businesses. Among our recommendations:
- Allow medical cannabis facilities to be treated as essential businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Allow temporary statewide delivery of medical cannabis regardless of county restrictions on the retail operation of cannabis store fronts.
- Allow curbside pickup from existing dispensaries.
- If your state permits the adult consumption of cannabis, allow home delivery and curbside pickup at these facilities as well to reduce the risk of the medical supply chain being impacted.
States like Michigan have already taken steps to help cannabis users by allowing home deliveries and curbside pickup with licensed retailers. States could also allow advance online ordering and payment at store to minimize person-to-person contact. While online payment would help further distance retailers and patients, this is prevented by lack of access to traditional financial services. While we understand that access to banking services is an issue best left to the Federal government, we urge you to take all steps to protect cannabis patients and consumers who reside in your state.
Cannabis businesses will likely be unable to access much of the relief that will be passed through federal stimulus packages, and we humbly ask you allow for their operations to continue so they can continue to serve their patient community.
National Cannabis Roundtable