In the wake of multiple debates surrounding the list of “essential commodities” amid Coronavirus outbreak, patients dependent on cannabis for medical consumption can be relieved as several states across the country have kept medical marijuana dispensaries at the same platform with other pharmaceutical stores.
This means that medical cannabis products will be available to patients who need them despite the stringent lockdown measures being imposed in several areas due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus.
In most states, marijuana for recreational purposes remain under the list of non-essential commodities. However, patients and doctors have raised concerns over the mode of procurement of cannabis.
Those who use cannabis for therapy usually suffer from chronic ailments and aches and are naturally immuno-compromised. Coronavirus has proven to be particularly fatal to patients with weak immune systems and those with underlying morbidities.
In this scenario, it cannot be safe for patients themselves to be queuing up to procure their medicines even if social distancing norms are maintained.
To curb the necessity for such patients to go out, a letter of outreach has been penned by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the Epilepsy Foundation, the Veterans Cannabis Project, and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.
MPP are also running a campaign so that citizens can sign a petition and urge governors to provide access to medical cannabis to patients who need it the most. You can sign the petition here.
In the letter, they have urged state governments to put in place a system whereby medical marijuana patients can order online, receive contactless cannabis delivery, and consult with physicians by telemedicine.
Several State Governments have given a nod for Medical Marijuana to be considered “essential”
It also seeks for an extension of the expiration date of medical marijuana cards to mitigate the burden on these patients.
Some states have taken cognizance of the matter quickly and have begun online delivery of cannabis medicines. States like Oklahoma and New Jersey are also expected to begin delivery services soon.
Most of these states are also allowing medical marijuana patients to consult doctors through telemedicine whereby they can avert the risk of exposing themselves to the deadly Coronavirus which has already claimed more than 5,000 lives across U.S.
Even so, some states are allowing the use of telemedicine facilities only for renewal and not for first-time appointments. Other states are offering curbside services whereby a relative of the patient can head to the dispensary after ordering online to collect the medicine.
“Similar to grocery stores, some medical cannabis dispensaries have implemented special hours for the elderly or more susceptible patients,” said Howard Lee, CEO of SōRSE, a hemp extract and terpene emulsion technology company.
In states where recreational use of cannabis has been legalized, medical marijuana products are available without medical cards as well.
Cannabis sales have skyrocketed in the last month since the outbreak of the virus and stores are worried that they may run out of stock soon. Reduced staff at the harvest and extraction plants may disrupt the supply chain as well.
Patient possession limits are also being revised to reduce the necessity for multiple trips to the dispensary. In Pennsylvania, physicians can now recommend a 90-day supply instead of the standard 30-day restriction.
In Massachusetts, the state has recommended patients to purchase their full two-week supply.
Strict hygiene protocols are being implemented across all dispensaries to reduce the risk of infection. Staffs are wearing personal protection equipment and social distancing protocols are also being enforced with severity in order to contain and minimize the possibility of contagion.