Medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation’s capital will now be able to make home deliveries and allow customers to pick up their orders curbside under emergency regulations adopted to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The temporary rules were announced on Monday by Mayor Muriel Bowser and officials with the Washington, D.C. Department of Health.
On March 24, Bowser issued an order closing all non-essential businesses in the city. Medical marijuana dispensaries were deemed essential services akin to other health care businesses and allowed to remain in business. Bowser followed that directive with a stay-at-home order for the city’s residents that was issued on March 30.
Under the new rules released on Monday, the district’s seven medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to deliver cannabis products to the homes of registered patients. Dispensaries will also be allowed to offer curbside pickup for patients in an effort to support social distancing protocols during the outbreak.
“This patient-centric, emergency rulemaking is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of District residents, and is similar to what other states are putting in place to continue access to medical marijuana,” the city said in its notice.
Strict Rules For Home Delivery
Dispensaries that decide to offer delivery to their customers will be required to use only one vehicle for the service. The single delivery vehicle must have a GPS unit installed, must be registered with the health department, and must not have any images, decorations, or advertisements associated with cannabis. All deliveries must be made by a registered dispensary employee between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, co-owner of the Takoma Wellness Center dispensary, told local media that health officials wanted to start with one delivery vehicle per dispensary but might consider adding more later.
“Because it’s all new, we don’t know what to expect or what demand will be,” said Kahn.
Norbert Pickett, the owner of the Cannabliss dispensary in the neighborhood of Deanwood, said that his shop is ready to offer curbside pickup and has modified its website to take orders for delivery. The dispensary has also already submitted information for the delivery vehicle to city officials.
“We should be up and running with home delivery probably within the next 48 hours,” he said. “We can move as quickly as the Department of Health moves,” he added.
The emergency rules allowing medical marijuana delivery and curbside pickup are scheduled to remain in effect until August 12 or 45 days after the end of the declared public health emergency, whichever comes first. But dispensaries owners, who have long wanted to offer delivery to better compete with unlicensed operations, hope the temporary rules will serve as a trial run that leads to the adoption of the provisions on a permanent basis.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Pickett. “It’s good that we’re doing this now, but it should have been done a long time ago.”