Across the country, society continues to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As many stores and small businesses have closed their doors, and people are hesitant to venture outside, residents have increasingly become worried about their everyday needs. Florida patients who rely on cannabis for medicinal purposes can rest easy knowing that cannabis dispensaries remain in the category of essential services. Because they have been deemed comparable to pharmacies, they can continue to operate – unlike recreational stores in some other states.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) stated that as of March 26, the organization did not know of any medical cannabis dispensaries ordered to close. State and local governmental agencies, including those in Florida, appear to recognize the vital role that medicinal cannabis plays in regards to patient care. 

Open dispensaries still pose a problem for at-risk and immuno-comprised patients, who are afraid to venture out and endanger their health. A large number of medical cannabis patients have chronic conditions that suppress their natural immunity, making them more vulnerable to the Coronavirus and the likely complications. Physically picking up their cannabis in the dispensary can represent a health risk, even when proper social distancing measures are in place. Many have wondered if stockpiling is the answer in the face of the uncertain crisis duration and rising demand.

This week, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Veterans Cannabis Project, and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation co-authored and delivered a letter to legislative leaders in the state of Florida, requesting that they act to protect medical consumers.

The letter petitioned governors to allow online ordering, contactless cannabis delivery, and the use of telemedicine for consultation. The letter also requested the expiration dates of medical cannabis cards be extended to protect the health of the patients relying on these services. 

Sarasota residents can be assured that Florida has taken strong measures to make sure that they still have access to their cannabis. Florida is among many states that have responded to the crisis by enacting interim measures to ensure the delivery of the needed treatments.

  • Medical cannabis dispensaries are deemed an essential service and, therefore, may remain open.
  • Unlike some other jurisdictions, Florida has allowed the delivery of medical cannabis since 2016. This policy will remain in place.
  • Curbside pickup is now legal, due to the COVID-19 situation.
  • During this crisis, telemedicine is allowed. This policy allows those who need to consult with doctors and receive recommendations to do so without leaving home.

In a recent article, pointed out that this crisis has highlighted that marijuana has not only become essential but more mainstream. From that article:

“Most of the American public and an increasing number of government leaders stopped buying into the demonization of cannabis years ago,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “Now, not only have two-thirds of states recognized that medical cannabis should be legal—with 11 legalizing adult-use—many are recognizing that safe access to cannabis is essential.”

If you (take this red out)have a qualifying medical condition and are interested in learning more about medical cannabis for your situation, call Dr. Daniel P. Stein of Sarasota. With telemedicine being an acceptable form of consultation, you can rest assured that you will receive the relevant information you need to take control of your health, even as we navigate this challenging time. Start your search now at the Neurology of Cannabis website.