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How Coronavirus is impacting cannabis regulations across the US

The coronavirus outbreak is creating a wave of cannabis regulation updates across the country.


The coronavirus pandemic is currently sweeping the globe and impacting businesses and individuals alike. Social distancing, shelter in place and hand washing techniques have become common items in conversation. With all of the negatives that have come about from this outbreak a potential silver lining is that it has demonstrated a shift in the US cultural view on cannabis. More than a dozen states have deemed cannabis an essential business for medical or recreational use. This is a drastic shift from schedule 1 substance to essential business. 


14 states which have cannabis industries have imposed shelter in place or similar orders to reduce the spread of coronavirus and limit the strain on our hospitals. Only Delaware and Louisiana have not clarified their stance. California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan and Illinois have ordered that recreational cannabis businesses may stay open. New Mexico, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Hawaii have done the same for medical cannabis business.


Although medical cannabis is allowed in Massachusetts, the state’s Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order closing recreational cannabis stores to avoid the spread of coronavirus. The order was challenged in court by the cannabis industry, but was ruled constitutional. However, the judge did recommend alternatives to the current complete ban such as limiting sales to residents only in his ruling.


In some areas the regulations are springing up city by city. Denver initially banned cannabis sales after 5 pm on Tuesday 3/24. Within hours crowding at cannabis shops forced the reversal and allowing sales if stores used curbside delivery and/or extreme social distancing. 


The rest of Colorado is currently only allowing cannabis sales via preorders that are picked up at the store’s curbside with no entry to the building. Online orders and curbside service was previously banned under Colorado law. However, Colorado governor Jared Polis’s executive order also suspended those prohibitions during the outbreak. Colorado also licensed the state’s first medical cannabis delivery provider The Dandelion this month.


Colorado has also suspended requirements for a physical examination prior to getting a medical card in order to further reduce exposure to coronavirus.


Maryland and Pennsylvania have limited business operations to reduce coronavirus spread. They both have exempted medical cannabis operations as essential businesses. Pennsylvania has acted similarly to Colorado and eliminated the requirement for in-person examination prior to medical cannabis approvals as well. Pennsylvania has increased the possession limits from allowing a 30-day supply of medical cannabis to 90 days.


Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington State have also begun to allow exterior pickup or delivery of cannabis orders. 


Nevada’s new emergency orders limit cannabis sales to delivery only and will allow 60-day delivery licenses for retailers that do not currently have delivery approvals. 


Washington State is only making an exemption to state regulations against sales outside retail buildings for medical patients currently. The delivery can be made outside of the retail licensee’s building, but within their property lines. Patients and caregivers must be entered into the Department of Health medical marijuana authorization database and have a valid recognition card to use the service.


Washington has also temporarily relaxed the regulations against those under 16 from being onsite at a cannabis producer or processor. This is being done to give some assistance to families with children that are impacted by the school closures due to coronavirus. This exemption applies as long as the person under 16 years of age is a child or grandchild of the licensee, is not engaging in any work or act of employment for the licensed business and does not possess any products associated with the production, processing, or sales of marijuana. Retail and transportation businesses are not covered by this exemption.


Oregon is requiring the delivery or curbside service to occur outside of the building, but within 150 feet of the licensee’s location. Oregon is also increasing the daily purchasing allowance for patients in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to 24 ounces a day. However, this doesn’t increase monthly allotment or possession limits.


Overall the coronavirus outbreak is showing the importance of the cannabis industry to the national economy and society. True Terpenes is happy to share these coronavirus cannabis updates and hopes the pandemic will be over soon so we can all relax together.


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