Despite the fact that cannabis is federally illegal, marijuana dispensaries are being deemed to be an essential service in some states. These states include California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. For medical marijuana patients, this is an almost-admittance that cannabis has significant therapeutic effects for people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain and a number of other conditions.
In fact, in some cases, getting and renewing a medical marijuana card has become easier than ever during this pandemic. This is because states have expanded their telehealth services to allow medical marijuana consultations to take place online, where before they were in-person only. Florida, Illinois and Ohio are such states, whereas states like Maine, California and New York allowed for certification prior to this pandemic.
Many dispensaries that operate in recreational states can only supply medical cannabis patients, and in-person sales have been prohibited. Curbside or delivery services are the only way to purchase cannabis. Many dispensaries have also put in place stringent social distancing and disinfection policies, often at the behest of the state. Some dispensaries have also set aside hours for senior and at-risk patients.
Although smoking cannabis is not ideal in a situation where lungs should ideally be kept as healthy as possible, there are still many tinctures, edibles, capsules and pills that could still be of huge benefit to medical cannabis patients in need of pain, nausea and/or anxiety relief in this distressing time. We sometimes forget that there are some seriously sick people out there who need life -saving or -improving medications, whether there’s a pandemic or not. The current situation has made it doubly hard for patients and their caregivers (as well as the healthcare system in general) to access these essential services.
This puts medical marijuana in a very unique position. In spite of its federally illegal status, medical marijuana is deemed to be as essential as groceries, prescription medications, gas stations and other healthcare services. Hopefully, this shows the rest of the US how important cannabinoid-based medications are for seriously sick people who cannot find relief in other ways, and greater leaps forward towards legalization are made in the future.
There are several huge questions that the COVID-19 crisis brings to the forefront. Cannabis is one of the few booming industries at the moment, but will it last, and will it take a whole new role in the post-COVID recovery? Can things go back to “business as usual”, or will the fact that medical cannabis is seen as “essential” make it a huge part of future stimulus programs and lead to further challenges to its “illegal” federal status? How “recession-proof” is the cannabis industry, and how much capital is there to invest in the industry? What about supply during and after the pandemic? Perhaps there will be more funding for medicine, immunology and other biological sciences, of which cannabinoid research may play a part?
There are going to be lots of questions that need to be answered, and the federal government may need to answer them so the cannabis industry can have a firm understanding of where they stand legally. On top of this, many other businesses, organizations and communities will have to accept that cannabis is a legitimate industry, which may prove to be a bit of a culture shock! However, we here at Leafwell certainly believe that the COVID-19 crisis may well fast-forward the legitimization & legalization of medical cannabis more than any number of studies and patient stories.
In the meantime, if you want to get a medical marijuana card or renew one, you can do so online with Leafwell. Register online today and speak to a physician about getting a medical marijuana card.