By Sam Wood
Medical marijuana patients -- many of whom are immunosuppressed -- won’t have to enter cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania to pick up their meds.
Gov. Wolf has temporarily suspended regulations that require all dispensing to occur inside a dispensary. Patients may now go to a cannabis retailer and have their product brought to their cars by a budtender.
Alternatively, approved caregivers now may deliver medical marijuana to an unlimited number of patients.
Wolf has the power to change the regulations under the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency issued on March 6 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. The suspension of the marijuana regulations will continue for as long as the emergency proclamation is in effect.
In a related development, sales of medical marijuana spiked more than 20% nationwide last week to an all-time high, analysts said, as patients flocked to dispensaries fearing that they would not be able to buy their cannabis in the event of a lockdown.
In Bellmawr, N.J., on Tuesday, municipal police said more than 100 card-carrying patients were already in line at 6 a.m. at the Curaleaf dispensary. The queue later grew to 200 people and snaked around the building, said Chief William Walsh. Some of those customers -- including cancer patients -- waited three hours to pick up their medications.
“They were hit unexpectedly,” Walsh said. “People were parking wherever they could and not always legally.”
Marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania were deemed “essential businesses,” akin to a pharmacy, under a edict issued earlier this week.
“With the current situation with the virus, this allows patients to pick up their medicines in the parking lot without having to interact with many other people,” said patient advocate Luke Schultz. “It’s important especially because so many have compromised immune systems or are not in the best of health.”