As the country continues the fight to contain the coronavirus epidemic, states have passed a range of emergency rules to limit exposure among cannabis users, vendors, and patients. While states with some form of legal cannabis have generally kept dispensaries open, many have passed laws that change how patients obtain and renew medical certifications, and how both medical and recreational users can purchase cannabis. Read on to learn about the changes in your state’s cannabis rules.
Limiting COVID-19 Exposure in the Dispensary
States have issued a range of guidelines to reduce the risk of coronavirus inside dispensaries. The smell jars are gone, employees may be wearing masks, and dispensaries may limit customers to one or two at a time to ensure social distancing. These rules for cannabis purchases are frequently updated and may vary from state to state, city to city, and even store to store.
Telehealth and Coronavirus
The biggest news for medical users is the spread of telehealth for medical card registration and renewal.
With the coronavirus outbreak, doctors have been cutting hours and restricting non-emergency appointments to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. However, many medical cannabis patients are seriously ill, and at great risk, should they be exposed to coronavirus. As a result, several states have prudently relaxed their rules to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis without an in-person visit. Read on for more information on cannabis laws, broken down by state.
State by State Cannabis Rules
New state cannabis rules
Alaska has put in place social distancing rules and other regulations to limit exposure to the cannabis industry. For consumers, however, cannabis rules remain essentially the same.
Arizona cannabis vendors are lining up patients in the parking lot and limiting the number of customers allowed inside at once, to observe social distancing. Patients should note that some Arizona dispensaries have had long lines due to the new measures.
In addition to temporarily allowing medical cannabis certification without an in-person visit, Arkansas has suspended the expiration of MMJ cards until the emergency is over. If your card expires, you’ll still be able to use it until the crisis is over. However, patients may renew their cards if they wish to.
During the epidemic, cannabis stores are adopting measures such as curbside pickup, delivery, and social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Connecticut medical cannabis dispensaries remain open. Connecticut residents may still use telehealth to register for the state’s medical-marijuana program.
Colorado has restricted adult-use shops to curbside sales to reduce exposure. Medical dispensaries can sell cannabis, both curbside and inside. Denver has its own separate rules, however, and has closed recreational cannabis shops.
Cannabis delivery is now permitted in Delaware. The state has also loosened requirements for getting a medical cannabis card.
MMJ patients in Florida can now use telehealth to renew their certification, provided it is obtained from a doctor who has previously certified that patient.
In Hawaii, vendors are encouraging patients to order cannabis online, or have a caregiver pick it up at the dispensary. Delivery is still not permitted.
Illinois now allows curbside pickup for medical patients, but not for recreational users.
Louisiana dispensaries remain open.
Medical dispensaries remain open in Maine. The state has only issued a handful of vendor licenses so far, and the process may be further delayed by Coronavirus, making it more difficult for medical users to obtain cannabis. Maine also allows telehealth for the registration of Maine medical cards.
Michigan has loosened delivery restrictions, along with curbside pickup. Customers can now order and pay for cannabis online, and have their products delivered directly to their car.
Minnesota has released emergency rules to keep the state’s medical cannabis program running during the epidemic. Patients whose medical cards are set to expire on March 31st or later will receive an extension until at least August 1st — potentially longer, depending on how long the emergency lasts. The state has also authorized emergency licensing of cannabis caregivers and curbside pickup.
Montana has recommended vendors use home delivery for medical cannabis in areas where local law allows it.
Nevada has closed dispensaries and is only permitting medical and recreational shops to sell via cannabis home delivery. The state is not currently allowing curbside sales.
New Hampshire medical dispensaries remain open, albeit with reduced hours. Patients are encouraged to call ahead and pre-order. The state temporarily permits curbside pickup and has suspended in-person requirements for registration as a medical cannabis patient.
Curbside pickup is now legal in New Jersey. The state is also allowing registered medical cannabis patients to register designated caregivers for $20 — a price previously only available to low-income patients.
New Mexico has issued a 90-day extension on MMJ cards that expire between March 11th and June}+ 13th. The state recommends patients use curbside sales or home delivery or call ahead to place orders for pickup. The state has continued processing applications by vendors to provide delivery, to limit exposure.
New York dispensaries remain open. The state is encouraging businesses and patients to use curbside pickup and scheduled visits to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure.
The coronavirus epidemic has led to the suspension of North Dakota’s recreational cannabis legalization drive. At least one Fargo medical dispensary has also shut down, in part due to coronavirus. As one of only 8 dispensaries in the state, the dispensary was the only nearby source for many medical users. For Fargo residents, the nearest dispensary is now 70 miles away.
Ohio now allows patients to register or re-register for their MMJ program via telehealth. Dispensaries have also been permitted to take orders over the phone, and the state has released new recommendations to decrease exposure. However, curbside pickup and delivery are still not allowed.
Oklahoma now allows curbside pickup of cannabis. Delivery remains illegal.
Oregon has temporarily authorized curbside cannabis delivery within 150 feet of dispensaries and put in place various regulations to minimize potential exposure inside. They’ve also increased the maximum amount medical users can purchase per day to 24 ounces of flower, although the monthly limit of 32 ounces has not changed.
Pennsylvania has relaxed its rules to protect medical cannabis patients. Pennsylvanians can now be certified for MMJ through telehealth, and registered patients can have cannabis delivered to their cars at the dispensary. Additionally, the state has removed limits on how many patients a caregiver can deliver to, making it easier for patients to obtain home cannabis delivery.
Rhode Island dispensaries remain open. However, COVID-19 will likely delay the fight for adult-use cannabis that is currently underway in the state legislature.
Utah residents can now purchase medical cannabis with a letter of recommendation from a medical professional. This law will remain valid through December 31st, after which residents will be required to obtain a medical marijuana card. As only one medical cannabis pharmacy is currently open in Utah, accessing cannabis will remain a challenge for many MMJ patients through the end of the year.
Washington is now allowing curbside pickup for both medical and non-medical users.
Medical dispensaries will remain open in DC.
Staying Safe Throughout the Epidemic
This COVID-19 epidemic has stressed our resources as a nation and our resolve as individuals. If you think you might be sick or are struggling with concerns or questions about COVID-19, or just want someone to talk to, please reach out to your doctor. We’d be happy to refer you to a holistic medical practitioner or cannabis doctor who can help you get through this crisis, safe and healthy using the new State Cannabis rules.