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Oregon, Pennsylvania Relax Cannabis Rules As Nevada Closes Storefront Dispensaries

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, states are reconsidering certain cannabis business regulations.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Board Supports Whole-Plant Sales

Cannabis regulators across the country continue to react to the spreading coronavirus pandemic, with Oregon and Pennsylvania relaxing rules while storefront dispensaries were ordered closed in Nevada. The changes come as more states issue stay-at-home orders in an effort to curtail the spread of the virus.

In Oregon, regulators with the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) issued temporary rules that allow cannabis retailers to conduct sales outside of the licensed premises. While the rules are in effect, dispensaries will be permitted to take orders and deliver product to customers who are within 150 feet of the business. The change is designed to support last week’s order from Democratic Gov. Kate Brown that prohibits gatherings of 25 or more people and encourages residents to maintain a distance of at least three feet between each other.

The temporary regulations also increase the amount of cannabis patients in the state’s medical marijuana program can purchase to 24 ounces per day but no more than 32 ounces a month. The change increases the daily purchase limit to match a patient’s personal possession limit but does not increase the amount of medicine that may be purchased each month.

The temporary regulations were issued at an emergency meeting of the OLCC held to consider temporary rules for cannabis and alcohol businesses during the ongoing outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. OLCC Chair Paul Rosenbaum said that the changes were enacted to protect public health while supporting businesses trying to cope in reeling economic conditions.

“Every single decision that this agency is making, both for the liquor and the marijuana industries, are there for the consideration of helping people make a living and continue to make a living,” said Rosenbaum.

Steve Marks, the executive director of the OLCC, said that the temporary rules could be amended if it is determined that they are disruptive to the community.

“We’re asking our retailers to make sure to work with the community and local officials so that this can happen in a safe and non-obstructive way to city services, otherwise we’ll need to make changes,” he said.

Pennsylvania and Nevada Also Make Changes

Pennsylvania officials also announced temporary rule changes for the state’s medical marijuana program. While the temporary regulations are in effect, licensed dispensaries will be permitted to provide medical marijuana to a patient who is in a vehicle on the retailer’s property. The changes also remove the cap on the number of patients a registered caregiver can serve and eliminate background check requirements for caregiver license renewals. 

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The new rules also waive requirements for in-person consultations with physicians and patients for a medical marijuana card renewal and increase the amount of cannabis that can be issued from a 30-day supply to enough for 90 days for some patients.

“In the midst of COVID-19, we need to ensure medical marijuana patients have access to medication,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release. “Medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries are considered life-sustaining businesses under the governor’s order for non-life-sustaining businesses to close.”

In Nevada, however, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak moved to tighten the rules on cannabis retailers during the coronavirus crisis, ordering storefront dispensaries to close. The change allows dispensaries to make home deliveries but a directive from the state’s Department of Taxation said that curbside pickups at cannabis retailers would not be permitted.

A.J. Herrington
Written By

A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based writer and photographer covering cannabis and the environment.

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