Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer
Last week, we talked about cannabis and coronavirus. This week, there’s been little else going on in the news. With worldwide cases at over 244,000 and deaths just over 10,000 as of March 19, COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. Let’s look at what has been happening in the medical cannabis world in the last week.
NORML’s statement on cannabis as an essential service: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws issued a statement in regard to the continued operation of medical cannabis dispensaries during the COVID-19 crisis.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “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. 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.”
Altieri also added that facilities should be allowed and encouraged to directly deliver products to patients and the elderly who are social distancing. In regard to cannabis facilities that remain open, NORML reminds them to keep their employees and customers safe through frequent sanitization, limits on the number of customers, and, like some other businesses have done, potentially creating specific hours of operation for elderly or other higher-risk patients.
Previous NORML guidelines still apply, which include: avoiding the intake of combustive smoke and instead using tinctures or edibles; not sharing cannabis cigarettes, pipes, or vaporizers; frequently cleaning devices; and avoiding online scams of cannabis-based COVID-19 ‘cures.’
NORML reiterated its longstanding position that state laws should recognize and allow patients to engage in personal cultivation, for a consistent supply and affordable access to cannabis.
In other news, while people across the country are clearing grocery stores of milk, eggs, bread, and toilet paper (!), shoppers in Boston are instead opting to stockpile cannabis. Brookline dispensary New England Treatment Access eliminated walk-in orders, and patients may only get their cannabis if they reserve it ahead of time. Customer Mary Murray told WGBH, “I can’t stockpile my so-called traditional medications that are issued by a pharmacist at CVS or Walgreens…but I feel way more confident in my ability to take care of myself through the purchase of cannabis, through medical marijuana products, because I can do that myself.” She says that in the state of emergency, she doesn’t know when she can get to the pharmacy or doctor, but “having the ability to purchase the amount of marijuana and cannabis products that I’m going to need is essential to addressing how I’m going to stay safe.”
While Bostonians are stocking up on medical cannabis, the situation here in New Jersey is not so easy. Ricardo Rivera, father of a 13-year-old girl with epilepsy, told nj.com that he is 100 percent prepared for a quarantine in terms of food and supplies, with the exception of one critical necessity- medical cannabis to treat his daughter’s condition. New Jersey medical cannabis patients face obstacles such as purchase limits, shortages due to overwhelming demand, and high costs that many patients have difficulty affording.
Although the NJMMP program has 70,000 patients enrolled, New Jersey has only nine dispensaries and six cultivation sites. The dispensaries interviewed by nj.com reported taking measures to keep the employees and customers safe, while also taking steps to ensure cultivation continues, such as cross-training employees, in case the dispensaries face temporary closures.
At MyCureAll, we continue to work hard to get medical cannabis covered by insurance- the reasons above are just one reason that thousands of people would benefit from insurance coverage on cannabis. If medical cannabis was covered, maybe parents could sleep a little better at night, knowing they wouldn’t have to save thousands of dollars if they needed to stock up on a little extra cannabis to get their child through a quarantine situation.
How is everyone out there dealing with coronavirus? Are you using medical cannabis for anxiety or to help you sleep? The team at MyCureAll is here to help! We can help you find the right strain for your condition(s).
Reach out to us anytime and check out our Shopify store!