HomeNewsDelaware Medical Marijuana Program Expansion In Effect

Delaware Medical Marijuana Program Expansion In Effect

Legislation signed by Delaware Governor John Carney to expand the state’s medical marijuana program kicked in at the start of this month.

Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, House Bill 285 removed the requirement that a debilitating medical condition is needed to qualify for a registry identification card. This means health care providers can decide if the patient has a diagnosed medical condition that could benefit from the use of marijuana.

The new rules also enable patients aged 65 and older to self-certify for the state’s program without written certification from a health care provider. Furthermore, registry identification cards with an indefinite expiration date can be provided where the patient has a terminal illness. HB 285 also authorizes the state’s program administrators to issue registry identification cards with 1,2, or 3-year expiration dates.

Additionally, patients with out-of-state medical marijuana identification cards can now make purchases in Delaware dispensaries. The state’s CBD and compassionate use programs have also been ditched as HB 285 means they are no longer necessary.

Currently, 48,406 patients with approved enrolment are active in the state’s program, along with 1,427 patient caregivers. 2,576 healthcare practitioners are registered and authorized to certify patients. The patient count appears to be at its highest level since the program kicked off in 2015.

The proactive action of program expansion could help head off or slow down an exodus from the program. In April last year, recreational cannabis was legalised in the state, which has been working towards establishing a local industry. Early recreational marijuana sales may occur via existing medical cannabis dispensaries if another piece of legislation gets the governor’s signature. This would mean sales would start months earlier than originally planned – a prospect welcomed by some, but rejected by others.

Other states that have medical programs and subsequently legalized recreational use have generally seen rapid declines as patients have gravitated towards adult-use products. In those cases the states have attempted to shut the gate after the horse has bolted, so it will be interesting to see how things pan out in Delaware with the changes in place.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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