In response to numerous states and cities considering cannabis businesses as “essential” businesses, leaders from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) issued statements in support of the states continuing to label medical cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses.
“NORML commends the decision of various state governments and local jurisdictions during this pandemic to designate medical cannabis facilities as ‘essential’ to the community. This designation permits them to continue to provide important services to patients who rely on them,” said NORML Executive Director, Erik Altieri. “There are several million state-licensed medical cannabis patients in America. Because many of these patients are among our more vulnerable populations, it is essential that they maintain uninterrupted, regulated access to lab-tested products during this time. Policymakers must not push these patients to the illicit marketplace because unregulated products may contain contaminants, adulterants, molds, pesticides, or other components that could potentially endanger their health.”
In San Francisco, California, all cannabis dispensaries and delivery services were ordered to close March 17 before being reopened and considered as essential business. To reverse the decision, San Francisco-based Cal NORML called for cannabis businesses to reopen for the severely ill patients that use cannabis to cope with their ailment. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared all cannabis businesses as essential on March 21, allowing all dispensaries and other parts of the cannabis supply chain, including farmers, distributors, manufacturers and testing labs to remain open during the lockdown.
“Because cannabis is an essential medicine for many residents, licensees may continue to operate at this time so long as their operations comply with local rules and regulations,” said the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control said. “Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social distancing and anti-congregating measures.”
NORML has previously given advice on consuming cannabis during the pandemic, including not sharing vaporizers or joints and avoiding the intake of combustible smoke whenever possible.
According to Forbes, states that include some form of announcement that allows cannabis businesses to stay open because they are considered essential, include the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.