Dom. Nov 1st, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will be making some changes to the medical marijuana program as a response to the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

A number of provisions for medical marijuana have been temporarily suspended, including ones that limit the number of patients a caregiver might have in order to provide someone with medical marijuana and another that eliminates background checks for caregiver applications, according to a press release from the Department of Health.

“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 the press release. “Medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries are considered life-sustaining businesses under the Governor’s order for nonlife-sustaining businesses to close. We want to be sure cardholders in the medical marijuana program can receive medication for one of 23 serious medical conditions during this difficult time.”

Caregivers will now be able to handle more patients without a cap on the number in order to allow for more patients to receive help. The caregivers will also no longer face limits on how much medical marijuana in 30 days “by requiring practitioners to notate on the patient’s certification to dispense a 90-day supply,” according to the release. There will also be an elimination of background checks for caregivers looking for a renewal to allow for more caregivers to apply.

In trying to allow for social distancing, medical marijuana can now be distributed in the parking lot of the facilities rather than inside the dispensary itself, according to the release. There will also be remote consultations allowed between practitioners and medical marijuana cardholders for renewal certifications.

The changes have been made in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s order that non-essential businesses close to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The release notes that as of Friday, there have been 268 cases of the coronavirus reported in the state with 2,574 who have tested negative. One person in the state has died from the virus.

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