Concern over the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has led regulators in Michigan to temporarily permit cannabis dispensaries to offer curbside pickup services. The move is an effort to support social distancing measures encouraged by health officials as a way to slow the spread of the virus.
On Monday, the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) issued a statement containing temporary rules that allow customers to purchase cannabis products from licensed medical marijuana provisioning centers and adult-use retailers without entering the building or standing in line.
“Customers may complete an order including payment for their product via the internet or they may place their order once parked at the facility,” the agency said in its notice. “An employee from the licensed facility or adult-use establishment is permitted to complete the sales transaction by interacting with the customer in the parking lot and recording the necessary information into the statewide monitoring system.”
“We want to protect the safety of workers and avoid crowding at the stores,” said David Harns, a spokesman for the MRA.
Cannabis Home Delivery Encouraged
Regulators also encouraged consumers and patients to utilize cannabis delivery services when possible and announced that a requirement that deliveries may only be made to the address on a customer’s ID would be temporarily lifted. There are currently more than 200 medical marijuana dispensaries and at least 53 adult-use retailers licensed in Michigan. However, only 85 provisioning centers and 17 shops selling recreational pot have been licensed to make home deliveries.
To increase the availability of home delivery during the coronavirus crisis, the MRA said that it would expedite the application process for those businesses not yet licensed to provide the service.
“The MRA will make every effort to review, process and approve requests from licensees within 24-48 hours,” the MRA said in the advisory bulletin.
Robin Schneider, the director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, praised the MRA for taking steps to enable consumers to protect themselves during the coronavirus outbreak.
“During a crisis like this, you really get to see if state government is prepared or not,” said Schneider. “And in this case, our department is absolutely shining.”
Calming Fears During A Crisis
Schneider said that the curbside delivery would make a “world of difference” in protecting the health of cannabis business employees. She also said that in addition to helping patients obtain their medicine, improving access through curbside pickup and increased home delivery can help those who are worrying about the spreading pandemic.
“Everyone is having anxiety and stress right now over this entire situation,” she said. “And cannabis does have a calming effect on people. We don’t want people going back to opiates and this is an essential item that is very important to many of our citizens.”
The temporary permission that allows provisioning centers and adult-use shops to offer curbside pickup will be in effect until canceled by the MRA.