Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates Call on Governors to Protect Patients Amid Covid-19 Outbreak




Americans for Safe Access Provides Governors, Mayors, Medical Cannabis Program Directors with Action List

Washington, DC -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sent out a letter March 16, 2020 to call on governors and directors of state medical cannabis programs to take immediate action to ensure that patients continue to have access to medical cannabis and that the supply chain is not interrupted while Governors are creating emergency plans in their states to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help avert another public health crisis, Americans for Safe Access held an emergency meeting with key stakeholders across the country to gather information that will help Governors and directors of medical cannabis programs address issues that are affecting patients and businesses across the country.

ASA and its stakeholders recommend that all governors and/or medical cannabis directors put the following measures into place immediately to ensure that patients--many of whom represent our nation’s most vulnerable population--are protected:
  1. Ensure 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 medicine in the future. 
  5. Extend the expiration date 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 a vehicle parked in the dispensary’s parking lot.

To help keep patients updated, ASA has also created a page for people to share how businesses are responding to COVID-19 across the country www.safeaccessnow.org/COVID-19.
“In light of the current state of COVID-19 and the CDC’s actions, Americans for Safe Access has been monitoring the situation to make sure that medical cannabis patients are not forgotten," said ASA Founder and President Steph Sherer. We want to ensure that dispensaries are seen as essential businesses that will remain open for patients. We applaud states that have already put emergency precautions into action and we will keep patients and the public updated on any future developments through our www.safeaccessnow.org/COVID-19 response page.”

Some states have already taken action to help patients continue to access their medicine through different strategies, like California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. 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. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance is also encouraging the State of Massachusetts to safeguard safe access and expand remote services for patients and caregivers to medical cannabis as it is medically essential healthcare.
“More than 3 million medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries in their states to provide them with medication, which to many patients can also be life saving,” said ASA Interim Director Debbie Churgai. “The health and safety of patients, dispensary staff and the community as a whole is our priority and we hope that Governors and state regulators will allow some important flexibility for medical cannabis patients during this time of need.”

ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit (501(c)(3)), is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research with over 100,000 active members in all 50 states.

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