March 23, 2020

Open Letter to Lawmakers Seeking Actions to Ensure Access to Cannabis

March 23, 2020
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Several groups released an open letter advocating continued safe access to cannabis in U.S. in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Cannabis advocates, medical professionals and law enforcement officials released an open letter to state leaders in light on the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

In response to escalating efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing, the Marijuana Policy Project and other organizations have released an open letter urging governors and legislative leaders to take necessary actions to ensure continued safe access to cannabis in a way that is consistent with public health.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) released the full content of the letter on its website.

“In states with legal medical cannabis, the letter recommends state leaders declare medical cannabis businesses ‘essential,’ allow medical cannabis delivery, online ordering, and curbside delivery, ensure individuals are allowed to consult with physicians by telemedicine, and extend the expiration date of medical cannabis cards until after the crisis has abated, among other recommended actions,” reads an excerpt.

Some states have already deemed state legal medical marijuana dispensaries essential.

Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike De Wine issued a strict stay-at-home order restricting all non-essential businesses to close but exempted cannabis dispensaries.

De Wine said there are common sense exceptions to the directive and licensed medical marijuana production and agriculture was one of them.

Because the state considers medical marijuana to be medicine, which the Ohio Board of Pharmacy reaffirmed last week, the state’s MMJ dispensaries will stay open.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy did the same in a March 21 executive stay-at-home order allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open.

Other states that have signed off on curbside pickup including Illinois and Oregon.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has sanctioned curbside pickup and de facto home delivery for the first time ever. Pennsylvania’s caregivers are also being permitted to make deliveries to an unlimited number of patients during the crisis.

In the case of Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered dispensaries to close their storefronts but is permitting home delivery. 

Gov. Jared Polis in Colorado went one step further by allowing marijuana businesses to do curbside pickup and letting doctors issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic.

Massachusetts is also considering issuing medical cannabis recommendations through the use of telehealth waivers that will enable doctors to issue recommendations to patients whom they have not examined in-person during the coronavirus outbreak.

In California, state regulators deemed that cannabis retail outlets are “essential businesses.”

In New Mexico, which is also allowing curbside pickup, has extended expiring MMJ patient and caregiver cards for 90 days and has temporarily suspended background checks for new employees, per the New Mexico Political Report.

This is especially crucial for veterans.

“It’s critical that the men and women who bravely served their country can continue to count on receiving the life-saving medical treatments used for PTSD, chronic pain, and the other wounds of war,” said Doug Distaso, Executive Director at the Veterans Cannabis Project, in the MPP statement.s

“Like any patient who relies on widely available medical treatment options, veteran patients need assurance their access to cannabis is not unnecessarily and unfairly limited during this crisis.”


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