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The MMJ landscape is always shifting, but with the emergence of COVID-19, this has never been more true. Communities all over the United States are adapting to stay at home orders and legislators are hard at work with new rules and regulations.
So are MMJ dispensaries considered an essential service during the coronavirus pandemic? In many cases, yes. However, the rules differ from state to state. In some states, only medical marijuana dispensaries are considered essential, but in others, the essential status extends to recreational marijuana too.
Here’s what you need to know about MMJ in the era of COVID-19, including how you can still get a medical marijuana card, and the best way to go about getting your MMJ as you shelter in place.
If you’re wondering whether or not marijuana businesses remain open during the pandemic, the answer really depends on the state.
In Alaska, for example, both recreational and medical dispensaries remain open. While they haven’t been deemed essential services there, Alaska has allowed normal retail trade and even telemedicine renewal for medical marijuana cards.
In other states, such as California and Colorado, cannabis dispensaries have been deemed essential services and remain open. Each state has its own regulations surrounding pickup and delivery, which rules changing even between counties. Some states that have deemed MMJ essential removed their ban on telemedicine too, allowing doctors to make renewals and recommendations over the phone.
Your best bet when it comes to understanding how medical and recreational marijuana is handled in your area is to contact the state agency that regulates marijuana and follow their guidelines.
If you’ve been meaning to get an MMJ card but were thwarted by the rise of COVID-19, it may not be too late. As mentioned, many states have adjusted regulations to allow telemedicine visits for renewals of MMJ cards, but not for initial consultations.
Many states are still running their MMJ card programs, however. So, you may need to meet with a doctor in person for the initial consultation, but you can still apply for an MMJ card and have it approved. You should contact the agency that oversees the regulation of MMJ in your state to find out what needs to be done to apply.
Again, where you live will have an impact on how you can access MMJ during coronavirus lockdown. In general, states have made the following avenues open to access MMJ:
If a dispensary cannot offer delivery services, they can provide curbside pickup. This option allows you to order from the dispensary just as you would place a food order online, then drive to the dispensary, alert them that you’ve arrived, and have staff bring your MMJ out to you. This provides safe access for both patients and dispensary workers.
Some states allow for online delivery services for medical products, including medical marijuana. You can place an order over the phone or online and then have it delivered directly to your home.
Some dispensaries do remain open for normal retail business, but they may have altered hours of operation or special procedures for shopping in the store. If you plan to go to a dispensary in person, contact them ahead of time to find out what the procedures are, whether you’re supposed to wear a mask, and what their hours of operation are so you can plan your visit in the safest way possible.
Some people worry that they may be more susceptible to coronavirus infections if they smoke medical marijuana. While there aren’t yet any definitive studies that show whether this is the case, it’s a decision you need to make. If you’re worried about the potential risk smoking poses, perhaps consider some alternative ways to dose.
The bottom line: continuing to use MMJ in any way to manage medical conditions is still permitted during this pandemic. That’s why many states have deemed MMJ dispensaries as essential and continue to ensure people can still access medical marijuana for treatment.
The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with local laws in your area surrounding MMJ. These rules have been put in place to help make the community safer as a whole, while ensuring that you can still get the medical marijuana products you need.