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Cannabis and COVID-19: Telehealth in Massachusetts

By Shelley Swearingen – March 23, 2020

It’s an understatement to say we are all feeling the effects of the coronavirus. Our lives have changed dramatically, and the full magnitude is still unknown. The most obvious & immediate consequences are those of self-quarantine and social distancing.

Many states have enacted measures to limit the contact of residents in the hopes of quelling the spread of the Coronavirus. One way to do this is to order the closure of non-essential business. Retail establishments have shuttered their doors with a few exceptions: grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, and dispensaries. In states where marijuana is legal, licensed cannabis shops have been deemed ‘essential’. This is a saving grace to the marijuana industry.

Legislators and state officials recognize that many utilize marijuana for purposes other than solely recreational. Many consider marijuana medicine and feel that access should not be disconnected. There are still restrictions, though.

Dispensaries are following physical distancing guidelines established by the CDC and encouraging customers/patients to utilize online ordering. Dispensaries will place markers on the floor as to where patients/customers should wait to limit contact and many are offering curbside pickup to online customers.

The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) of Massachusetts has taken social distancing an additional step. Massachusetts state law requires a patient meet with a doctor in person for approval as a patient in the medical marijuana program. The Executive Director of the CCC issued guidance on this requirement and is allowing an exception. During the state of emergency imposed by the governor, a Provider may submit a waiver request to the CCC to approve a potential patient via telehealth mediums. It was determined that the requirement of the patient to appear physically may proliferate the spread of the virus and undermine the order of the Governor. 1

This viral response has undoubtedly affected every person in the country. The true implications and severity will not be known until a later date. The marijuana market is in its infancy and will truly be tested. I have faith the market will not only survive but be a driving force in helping America regain its footing.

UPDATE: 3/25/20 — The state of Massachusetts has issued a ‘stay at home’ advisory; all adult-use dispensaries have been ordered to cease & desist operations from March 24th through April 7th 2020. Cannabis dispensaries serving medical patients may continue operations.

The experts at KL Security review the health and well-being of operational protocols to give the best guidance for deterring diversion; we have proven our abilities to institute protocols for compliance and SOPs that coincide with legislation and adhere to security requirements.  Utilizing the Total Harvest Coverage methodology for security plans as well as cannabis business operation improvements – we have successful projects in facilities in multiple states. We’ve helped leaders in the national cannabis industry drive revenue and stay compliant with state laws.

Information has been gathered from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.

  1. Bulletin – Telehealth Consultations for New Patients