Marijuana News

Cannabis Deemed Essential…During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As more and more states issue orders to “shelter-in-place” and social distancing becomes our new normal, the doors of legal weed dispensaries have remained open. In state-after-state; Colorado, California, Illinois, and the District of Columbia governors, and public health officials have so far classified weed dispensaries as an essential business. As the Coronavirus rages on, affecting growing numbers of the population, some worry that this may change. Unwilling to roll the dice on this decision, or to subject themselves to a weed shortage many marijuana enthusiasts are taking the opportunity to stock up.

The long lines that have formed outside some dispensaries have drawn the ire of prohibitionists who worry that the people in lines will be unable to practice social distancing protocols. Not to worry, in some states officials have responded by temporarily expanding delivery policies, and allowing for curbside pickup. Others are enabling doctors to provide medical marijuana recommendations via telemedicine, instead of requiring in-person examinations. Both of these measures are evidence that the tide has shifted and that cannabis providers are being recognized for providing a vital service, a move that many say is in the right direction.

Now that two-thirds of the states support the legalization of medical marijuana, it’s reassuring to see that many are recognizing this service as essential. Here’s a breakdown of how each state is managing access to legal cannabis during the COVID-19 outbreak.


State officials have determined that cannabis retailers are essential businesses that can remain open to customers, during the stay-at-home order.


The governor issued an executive order, enabling marijuana retailers to provide curbside pickup and doctors to assess patients via telemedicine, dropping the requirements for in-person examinations for medical marijuana recommendations. Additionally, the governor followed up with another order, that labeled marijuana retailers as critical businesses for the distribution of medical cannabis, and for providing curbside pickup.


Regulators established that medical marijuana businesses are essential, and can remain open for business.


The state surgeon general issued an order, which allows physicians to recertify existing patients via telemedicine, but doesn’t allow for new patient certification by telemedicine.


The governor’s stay-at-home order exempts cannabis dispensaries and cultivators, allowing them to stay open. Retailers can provide curbside pickup for medical marijuana, but not for recreational marijuana.


Medical marijuana retailers, processors, and growers don’t have to shut their doors, despite the governor’s order to close all non-essential businesses. Also, retailers are allowed to dispense medical marijuana to their patients in parking lots.


The governor’s stay-at-home order has shuttered the doors of recreational cannabis retailers while allowing medical marijuana businesses to remain open. Also, medical marijuana distributors were encouraged to expand their offerings.


The governor’s stay at home orders prohibit in-store transactions, however, they do allow for curbside sales and home deliveries.

New Hampshire:

Medical marijuana patients can do curbside pickup from dispensaries and doctors can make cannabis recommendations via telemedicine.

New Jersey:

Medical marijuana dispensaries can provide curbside pick up in front of their facilities, and dispensaries are exempt from the stay-at-home order.

New Mexico:

Medical marijuana businesses were ruled essential here and can stay open. Providers are allowed to do curbside pickup, and expiring patient and caregiver cards have been extended for 90 days. Also, background checks have been suspended for new employees.

New York:

Medical marijuana distributors do not have to close according to the state health department. Also, those who are permitted to to provide home delivery service, have permission to expand their service without written approval.


Medical marijuana businesses are exempt from the state-wide business shutdown order. Patients are now allowed to phone-in their orders in advance of their arrival to the dispensary, so as to limit their onsite time. Doctors can now also make recommendations through telemedicine.


Cannabis providers were approved to provide curbside delivery at their licensed retail locations. Also, medical marijuana sales limits have been increased.


Medical marijuana businesses are considered “life-sustaining” in the state of Pennsylvania and thus able to stay open. Patients can have their cannabis brought to them in their cars, and the medical marijuana providers can perform an unlimited number of deliveries.

Washington State:

Marijuana businesses are deemed to be essential businesses and thus remain open. Also, they are allowed to provide curbside deliveries for medical marijuana patients.

The coronavirus pandemic is causing broad changes to our way of life across the nation. You may not be able to go to the movies, eat at your favorite restaurant, or gather to watch your favorite sport, but at least you will be able to get baked. Remember, smokers should exercise caution when smoking and vaping, so as not to agitate their lungs, and consider other ways to enjoy cannabis like edibles.

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