Ohio medical marijuana patients can now pick-up their medicine without leaving their car or entering a dispensary.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy on Friday temporarily allowed dispensaries to make sales in the parking lot or on the sidewalk outside the store in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sales at walk-up or drive-thru windows are also allowed.
The board last month allowed patients to phone ahead orders. But until Saturday, patients and registered caregivers still had to walk inside the dispensary to pay and pick-up products. The new pick-up is an option and not required of all 51 dispensaries.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was asked Friday afternoon if he would consider allowing curbside pick-up or delivery for medical marijuana patients.
“I certainly wouldn’t rule that out,» DeWine said. “That’s something I will ask our team to look at and to look at what the situation is for these individuals.”
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Ohio has been under a stay-at-home order since March 24, and the order has been extended through May 1. Medical marijuana is considered a medicine; medical marijuana businesses have been deemed essential by the state.
Delivery is not permitted. Curbside pick-up orders must be reviewed by the patient or caregiver. Security personnel must be present outside for each sale, and all activity must be visible in security cameras.
Dispensaries are largely cash-only businesses. A pharmacy board spokesman said last month there were concerns about handling cash for outdoor and delivery sales. The new curbside rules require cash to be taken inside after each transaction.
The board began working on the new policy at the beginning of last week and finalized it Friday afternoon, spokesman Cameron McNamee said. Dispensaries were notified of the policy on Saturday morning.
«We wanted to craft a proposal that promotes social distancing and continues patient access while also ensuring employee safety,» McNamee said.
More than 100,000 Ohioans have been recommended medical marijuana to treat one of 21 conditions by a state-certified physician since December 2018. The program rules prohibit delivery or growing marijuana at home.
About 30% of Ohio’s medical marijuana patients are over age 60. The list of qualifying medical conditions includes some that weaken immune systems, putting them at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
The program has made other changes in recent weeks:
- Physicians can recommend medical marijuana over phone or video.
- Patients can pre-order over the phone.
- A patient can designate up to three caregivers to buy medical marijuana for them.