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Medical Marijuana Considered ‘Essential’ Good During Quarantines

Multiple state and local health departments announced medical marijuana was an essential good during “shelter-in-place” orders.

Cities across the nation have announced “shelter-in-place” orders for residents to limit the spread of novel coronavirus. “Shelter-in-place” means residents will be ordered to remain in their homes outside essential activities. San Francisco has already ordered a “shelter-in-place” for residents and Mayor Bill de Blasio told New Yorkers Tuesday they should prepare for the possibility of a similar order.

You may wonder what exactly falls under essential activities. In San Francisco, essential businesses like health care facilities, gas stations, grocery stores, banks, and more could remain open, while restaurants could fulfill delivery and/or to-go orders. People could also leave their homes to see medical professionals, obtain food and supplies, engage in outdoor activity, and care for family members in other households.

Now, several cities have announced that buying medical marijuana will be allowed under any “shelter-in-place” order. Several local and state health departments have also confirmed they will expand the delivery capabilities of dispensaries and permit possible door-side transactions for medical marijuana patients.

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“There are several million state-licensed medical cannabis patients in America,” NORML executive director Erik Altieri told The Fresh Toast. “Because many of these patients are among our more vulnerable populations, it is essential that they maintain uninterrupted, regulated access to lab-tested products during this time. Policymakers must not push these patients to the illicit marketplace because unregulated products may contain contaminants, adulterants, molds, pesticides, or other components that could potentially endanger their health.”

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Photo by Juliana Malta via Unsplash

The New York Health Department announced that medical marijuana could be delivered and dispensaries were considered essential Tuesday. So long as cannabis providers continue to comply with government and regulations guidelines, like reviewing a customer’s medical ID card, they will remain open.

“In the event nonessential businesses are forced to shut down due to COVID-19, registered organizations in the medical marijuana program will be considered essential and allowed to remain open because they are considered medical providers,” said a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health.

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San Francisco initially ruled that only medical cannabis shops were considered essential Tuesday, while the city’s recreational businesses were not. But according to the city’s website Wednesday, the city had extended the ruling to include recreational dispensary as essential, too.

“For those facilities that continue to maintain operations for on-site retail sales, NORML encourages them to engage in recommended best practices in order to keep both their employees and their customers safe,” Altieri said. “This includes frequent sanitization of shelving and other public spaces, limits on the total number of customers permitted to congregate together at one time, and potentially imposing specific hours of operation for elderly or other higher-risk patients.”

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