EDWARDSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — In response to the coronavirus outbreak, nonessential businesses are closed. But one new industry remains open.
The Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said on Friday medical marijuana dispensaries and processors are considered life-sustaining businesses and therefore are able to continue operating as normal.
During the coronavirus outbreak, the Department of Health is taking steps to assist those who are prescribed medical marijuana. In a statement she said “we want to be sure cardholders in the medical marijuana program can receive medication for one of 23 serious medical conditions during this difficult time.”
On March 20th, some regulations have changed. Sabrina Smith is the president of Crowd Pow Wow Proud, a nonprofit which educates people about medical marijuana. She says the biggest change is dispensary employees will be able to give cardholders their medical marijuana in their car on the dispensary’s property, following social distancing guidelines.
“Being able to go out and serve the community in their car is actually a blessing because I see a lot of elderly standing in line, waiting,” Smith said.
There is also no longer a limit on the number of patients assigned to a caregiver, a person designated to pick up the medication. Background checks are no longer required for the renewal of caregiver applications.
In person consultations are also waived and 90-day supplies of the medication is now allowed. Smith says labeling the medical marijuana industry as life-essential helps fight the stigma against marijuana.
“This is something the governor is actually keeping around it tells people that this is actually the healthy way to go,” Smith said.
Smith says medical marijuana also helps people with severe anxiety , which could get worse because of the stress of this uncertain time. The changed regulations will remain in place as long as the emergency proclamation is in effect.