Early this week, Americans For Safe Access sent a letter to governors and directors of state medical cannabis programs across the USA requesting immediate action be taken to ensure medical cannabis access is maintained during the COVID-19 crisis.
As the situation with the coronavirus worsens, various U.S. states or cities are ordering “non-essential” businesses to shut down in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. While essential businesses can remain open, medical cannabis dispensaries may not always be considered in this class. The issue became more pressing at a national level when, according to ASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hinted at calling for all non-essential businesses to close.
The shuttering of marijuana businesses servicing the adult use market is one thing, but closure of dispensaries geared towards the medical aspect is quite another – and could have serious health impacts on patients.
The recommendations in the letter from the ASA are:
- Ensuring cannabis businesses serving patients are considered “essential” businesses.
- Advise how medical businesses can make legal temporary changes to their business plans allowing for activities such as delivery to accommodate patients and staff during the crisis.
- Provide tax relief to patients and businesses.
- Allow cultivation and processing centers to continue operating.
- Extend the expiration date of state-issued cannabis identification cards.
- Permit authorized caregivers to serve additional patients.
- Allow telehealth visits for new and renewing medical cannabis patients.
- Allow dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis to qualifying patients and caregivers in a vehicle parked in the dispensary’s parking lot.
“The health and safety of patients, dispensary staff and the community as a whole is our priority and we hope that Governors and state regulators will allow some important flexibility for medical cannabis patients during this time of need,” said ASA Interim Director Debbie Churgai.
ASA notes some states, including California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, have already taken action to help ensure patients continue to access their medicine through various means. The situation is particularly good in Pennsylvania as dispensaries are already in the same classification as pharmacies.
As its name suggests, the mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to marijuana for therapeutic use and research. It’s a large organization with a membership of more than 100,000.