March 16, 2020
EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION TO GOVERNORS OF MEDICAL CANNABIS STATES
An Important Message About Medical Cannabis Access and COVID-19
As Governors are creating emergency plans in their states to address the COVID-19 virus, Americans for Safe Access and our allies would like to offer some guidance when addressing medical cannabis patients, who represent some of the states’ most vulnerable citizens. We are calling on states to take precautions now to help ensure that patients have access today and that measures are taken to ensure that the supply chain is not interrupted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hinted that it may call for all non-essential businesses to close to prevent the spread of the virus. Medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries in their states to provide them with medication, which is life-saving to many patients.
We know that many states are currently taking action to help patients continue to access their medicine through different strategies. For example, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control is working with CA businesses that serve medical cannabis patients by granting temporary changes in business plans that take into account the needs of patients and workers during this crisis. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana dispensaries will remain open since they fall into the same classification as pharmacies, which makes them essential.
To help avert another public health crisis, we encourage all state programs to be flexible at this time to allow for additional precautions to be put in place to protect the millions of patients nationwide that rely on this medicine.
It is our recommendation that governors and/or medical cannabis directors put the following measures into place immediately to ensure that patients do not have disrupted access to their medicine:
1. Make sure that cannabis businesses that serve patients are considered "essential" businesses.
2. Instruct medical cannabis businesses on how they can make legal temporary changes to their business plans, including delivery and purchase limits, to accommodate patients and staff during the crisis.
3. Give tax relief to patients and businesses.
4. Allow cultivation and processing centers to stay open to ensure a steady supply of medicine in the future.
5. Extend the expiration dates of state-issued cannabis identification cards so that doctors and other health care providers can focus on COVID-19.
6. Permit authorized caregivers to serve additional patients during the crisis period.
7. Allow telehealth visits for new and renewing medical cannabis patients.
8. Allow dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis to qualifying patients and caregivers in vehicles parked in the dispensary parking lots.
We understand that determining the best means by which to keep your communities safe is no easy task, and we thank you for taking our recommendations into consideration as you craft strategies to ensure that medical cannabis will be available to all patients in need throughout this public health emergency.
Debbie Churgai Interim
Director Americans for Safe Access
Headquarters: Toll Free: (888) 929-4367