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Pennsylvania's medical marijuana dispensaries considered 'life-sustaining' businesses

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

The state Department of Health has announced temporary changes to the medical marijuana program during the coronavirus outbreak.

“In the midst of COVID-19, we need to ensure medical marijuana patients have access to medication,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release. “Medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries are considered life-sustaining businesses under the governor’s order for non-life-sustaining businesses to close.

“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.”

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As of Friday, certain statutory and regulatory provisions have been temporarily suspended in order to implement the following changes in response to the COVID-19 emergency:

  • Allowing dispensary employees to provide medical marijuana to a cardholder in their vehicle on the facility’s property;
  • Remove the current cap that limits the number of patients assigned to one caregiver, to allow for more caregivers to patients in need;
  • Eliminate background checks for caregiver applications, limited to renewal applications only, in order to expedite the caregiver renewal process;
  • Waive in-person consultations and allow for remote consultations between approved practitioners and medical marijuana cardholders for renewal certifications only; and
  • Waive limits that allow for medical marijuana to only be dispensed for 30 days by requiring approved practitioners to note on the patient’s certification to dispense a 90-day supply.

The statutory and regulatory suspensions will remain in place for as long as the state's emergency declaration is in effect.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8. 

The state Department of Health has announced temporary changes to the medical marijuana program during the coronavirus outbreak.