The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way people go about their everyday lives, closing nonessential businesses in many communities in the process. This can be a worry for those who are looking to get approval for the use of medical marijuana.
The good news is that in many states, MMJ services have been deemed essential during the lockdown. Here’s how MMJ rules may have changed in recent circumstances, and everything you need to know about how to apply for an MMJ card during COVID-19 lockdown.
COVID-19 and Medical Cannabis Patients
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, only a few states allowed virtual visits for the prescription of medical marijuana – both renewals and initial consultations. Now, COVID-19 has forced many people to stay at home due to state orders. As a result, rules surrounding virtual visits to the doctor for medical marijuana have been relaxed.
Of course, how relaxed this has become (if at all) depends on where you live. Some states allow all visits to be conducted virtually, while others are requiring that initial consultations take place face-to-face. And once the stay at home orders state of emergency have been lifted, states will revert to pre-lockdown rules about prescribing medical marijuana.
How To Apply For An MMJ Card During COVID-19 Lockdown
MMJ cards allow a patient to legally access medical marijuana dispensaries in order to purchase medical marijuana. These cards are issued by individual states, so the process can be different from state to state.
In general, to obtain an MMJ card you must:
- Have a qualifying condition. Conditions commonly prescribed an MMJ card include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, or PTSD. Qualifying conditions change from state to state, so inquire with your doctor to find out more about your particular area.
- See a doctor. A state-certified doctor must prescribe MMJ to you for a medical condition.
- Apply for an MMJ card. Each state has a different government agency that oversees the MMJ program. Check with the agency in your state for more information about the paperwork you must complete to apply, and any fees associated with it.
After you’ve been approved, you can use your MMJ card to access medical marijuana in state-approved dispensaries.
Which States Allow Telemedicine Visits For An MMJ Card?
Telemedicine visits are being increasingly offered in many states with medical marijuana programs, but in different capacities. States that allow only for renewals of MMJ cards during the pandemic include:
- New Mexico
- Washington D.C.
States that allow for an initial telemedicine consultation include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
The situation surrounding stay at home orders is different in every state, so make sure to check with the government body that oversees the medical marijuana program in your state to figure out how you can get a prescription for medical marijuana and apply for an MMJ card.
If you live in a state with recreational marijuana, it may not have been deemed essential during this time, so it’s important to check with your state to find out more about how to access recreational marijuana (if you can) during the pandemic. Conversely, medical marijuana patients have access to MMJ in every state that has legalized and regulated it.
How To Access MMJ During Coronavirus Lockdown
A pressing concern for many MMJ patients is how to safely access MMJ during the lockdown. After all, many people who take medical marijuana may have a chronic illness that places them in the high-risk category for COVID-19, so physically going to a dispensary can be dangerous for them.
Luckily, MMJ patients need not worry. In many states, there are a couple of choices for getting the MMJ you need while reducing contact with people. These interim measures have been put into place in many states:
- Online ordering and delivery. In many states, home delivery for medical marijuana patients have been approved. The patient simply orders the MMJ online or by phone and the order is taken directly to their home. Check to see if this is currently offered in your state.
- Curbside pickup. Another temporary measure put into place for dispensaries that may not be able to offer delivery is curbside pickup. Patients or their caregivers can place their MMJ order online or by phone and then drive to the dispensary. Once there, a dispensary worker will bring the MMJ to the car so you don’t have to go inside.
Check frequently in your state to see if and when either of these options are available to you.
Featured image by Christina Winter on Unsplash