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How The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Changing The Medical Cannabis Industry

Posted: April 14, 2020

We’ve come a long way, folks! The medical cannabis industry is now considered to be an “essential service” by the majority of medical state governors during the pandemic. It goes without saying that the health of the patients, caregivers and cannabis industry staff is the most important concern. In this article I will explain the changes that have been implemented by Maryland medical cannabis dispensaries to do just that. I will link to the Medical Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) Bulletin, effective March, 16, 2020, which explains the changes. I will also discuss the best delivery methods to use during the pandemic and remember….No Sharing, Folks!

Governor Larry Hogan has declared that medical cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries and registered independent testing laboratories, collectively known as “medical cannabis licenses,” are state-licensed health care providers and facilities. Therefore, they will remain open during the pandemic.

Changes To Maryland Dispensary Operations

Suspension of Deli-style Sales and Sniff Jars

In the interest of minimizing the spread of the virus, all use of deli-style sales and sniff jars for the sale of medical cannabis flowers will be suspended indefinitely, effective immediately.

Social Distancing Policies

Implementing a plan to minimize exposure between employees and patients/caregivers by utilizing the following:

  1. Manage lines to maintain the recommended 6-foot distance between all individuals at all times
  2. Use of mobile or order-ahead features
  3. Encourage businesses to either temporarily reduce or stagger staff hours and change business hours to accommodate more patients. This should reduce the number of patients inside the dispensary at any one time
  4. Increase frequency and thoroughness of cleaning
  5. Allow staff more breaks in which to wash their hands
  6. Every 30 minutes, any surfaces directly touched by patients and caregivers such as ordering tablets and door handles must be disinfected
  7. Throughout the day, allow staff the opportunity to disinfect computer screens and keyboards, all railings, door handles, bathroom sinks, toilets and hand dryers and all countertops

Dispensary Signage

The Maryland Department of Health has developed helpful signs for the public. They recommend that dispensary licensees print them out and post them in areas where they will be seen by most patients.
Wash Hands
If You’re Sick Do Not Enter

Other Provisions

  1. The authorization of telemedicine to be used for the renewal of written patient certifications
  2. Patients are not required to sign at point-of-sale or to complete the patient attestation form
  3. Extension of agent registrations so that they do not expire until 30 days after the emergency measures have ended
  4. Ensure all medical cannabis businesses throughout the supply chain that they will be able to stay open and operational
  5. MMCC staff are currently processing all registration renewals promptly without disruption

Delivery Methods During The Pandemic

In fact, since COVID-19, in its most severe form, causes respiratory distress and pneumonia. Since smoking combusted plant material can be an irritant to the respiratory system it can cause unnecessary stress to the respiratory system, it is recommended you choose other forms of administration available.

Such as:

  • Tinctures
  • Ingestible Oils
  • Edibles
  • Topicals
  • Patches

Medical Cannabis Sales Have Exploded

In the past few weeks, medical cannabis sales have surpassed the volume of sales that dispensaries typically only see around 4/20 (April 20th). There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Medically-vulnerable medical patients are minimizing their exposure to the virus by purchasing their entire supply of product at one time rather than making multiple trips to their dispensaries.
  2. For patients for whom medical cannabis is life-saving, the prospect of not finding the products they need is distressing. For those that can afford it, they are stocking up to avoid having to go without their preferred products.
  3. During the most stressful time in living memory, medical cannabis provides welcome relief from the stress, anxiety and depression that accompanies living through this pandemic.

Stay healthy all!

Sources:
cannabiswire.com, Cannabis Regulators Respond To Coronavirus Concerns, March 25, 2020
leafly.com, COVID-19 and Medical Cannabis Patients: What You Need To Know, Emma Stone, March 26, 2020

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