COVID-19 and medical cannabisIn the midst of the COVID-19 maelstrom, the recent shuttering of nonessential stores has created concern around access to cannabis, particularly for medicinal cannabis consumers. Those who depend on cannabis for therapeutic purposes will be relieved to learn that across the US, medical cannabis dispensaries have been deemed essential services, comparable to pharmacies.
As of March 26, 2020, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) reported that they were not aware of any jurisdictions where medical cannabis dispensaries have been ordered to close temporarily. In counties such as Denver, care has been taken to specify that while recreational dispensaries will close, medical dispensaries will remain exempt. Most state government agencies seem to be acutely aware of medicinal patients’ needs.
But even with the reassurance of ongoing access to medical dispensaries, a host of other questions have arisen: How can immuno-compromised patients safely access cannabis supplies without endangering their health? Is hoarding or stockpiling supplies prudent in light of soaring cannabis sales across the US?
A letter of outreach co-signed by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Veterans Cannabis Project, and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation has urged legislative leaders of medical cannabis states to move to protect medical consumers.RelatedCannabis and coronavirus: Here’s what you need to know
The letter asks governors to enable online ordering, facilitate contactless cannabis delivery, allow patients to consult with physicians by telemedicine, and extend the expiration date of medical cannabis cards to diminish the burden on those patients.
So, what is the current state of affairs?
How has access to cannabis changed to protect the immuno-compromised?
One of the most pressing concerns for medical cannabis patients is how to get access to supplies while safeguarding health. A large proportion of medical cannabis patients live with chronic illnesses that inhibit their immunity, rendering them more vulnerable to COVID-19 and its potential complications. Setting foot in a dispensary, even when observing protocol to social distance by six feet, can pose a real risk to health.
Most states with medical cannabis dispensaries are acutely aware of this danger and have responded by enforcing stringent, interim measures to protect patients.