Monday March 30, 2020

Updated on 5/1/2020

By Matthew Mongelia

Are Dispensaries Still Open? Coronavirus and Special Marijuana Sales Regulations News

The novel coronavirus has temporarily reshaped the cannabis landscape as we know it. As communities across the world adapt to shelter-in-place lockdowns, legislators have created a patchwork of new regulations, with differing levels of access.

Various states have declared cannabis business as essential (and some are treating them as essential without an official shelter order yet), but interpretations can differ. For some, only medical dispensaries are granted essential status, though others have extended it to both medical and recreational shops. Many states have chosen the option of allowing recreational dispensaries to pivot their operations to delivery and curb-side pickup only, though some places have closed rec altogether.

Currently, all US states with an established medical marijuana system have maintained some form of access for medical patients (either in-store, delivery, or pickup).

To adapt to the demands of these times, some states have temporarily altered their regulations regarding telemedicine for doctor’s recommendations, certification renewals, delivery and curbside pickup (meaning pickup that takes place outside of the dispensary’s doors, which had been explicitly forbidden in most places prior to the COVID19 outbreak).

Below you’ll find a rundown on the currently available information about the openings and closures of cannabis businesses by state. The information below is our best effort at keeping current, please be sure to check with local authorities for detailed regulations in your state:

Alaska

Both medical and recreational dispensaries remain open for normal retail, though neither have been deemed an essential business. Delivery is not available. The state has allowed telemedicine to be used for medical marijuana card renewal (though new cards cannot be issued via telemedicine).

Arizona

Access to medical cannabis remains open, though the state has not officially deemed dispensaries essential at this time. Delivery options are available and encouraged. Medical consultations are not allowed via telemedicine.

Arkansas

The state of Arkansas has not yet issued a shelter in place, and thus has not had to deem dispensaries essential. Medical dispensaries are open at this time, with delivery options encouraged. Doctor’s recommendations for medical cannabis are not allowed via telemedicine.

California

The Golden State has deemed all cannabis dispensaries (Med and Rec) as essential and thus, they remain open. Regulations around delivery and curbside pickup vary by county, but the typical trend for rec has been to switch over to curbside pickup or delivery only where available.

Dispensary
Most states are deeming cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses. photo credit

The state’s directive mandates “licensee that continues to operate must adopt social distancing and anti-congregating measures.” It is best to check with local officials for your county’s status. California law already allowed for telemedicine for both recommendations and renewals, and will continue to under the shutdown.

Colorado

Medical and recreational dispensaries have been deemed essential under the statewide stay-at-home order given by Governor Jared Polis. Recreational dispensaries are permitted to conduct curb-side pickup and delivery orders only.

Medical dispensaries in Colorado remain open, but pickup and call-ahead are heavily encouraged. Delivery has not yet been implemented on a broad scale, though more options are expected (most likely for medical) soon. The state has temporarily removed the ban on telemedicine; doctors can now make recommendations and renewals over telemedicine.

Connecticut

Medical dispensaries have been deemed essential in Connecticut, with both delivery and curbside pickup available. Recommendations and renewals can be completed by telemedicine. Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Connecticut at this time.

Washington D.C.

Our nation’s capital has declared medical dispensaries to be essential businesses, and remain open at this time. The city allows for renewal of medical cards by telemedicine, but does not allow for new recommendations.

Delaware

Delaware has not yet deemed medical dispensaries for essential status, however, dispensaries are still open and operating. Delivery and curbside pickup are currently not permitted. Only renewals are allowed via telemedicine.

Florida

Medical marijuana access has been declared essential in the Sunshine State. Dispensaries are open and offering both delivery and curbside pickup. Recommendations and renewals were temporarily granted permission for telemedicine by an emergency order.

Hawaii

Hawaii has given medical dispensaries essential status, and dispensaries are currently open. Delivery is not available, but curbside pickup is. Currently, telemedicine is only allowed for med card renewal.

Illinois

Recreational and medical dispensaries have been given essential status in Illinois, with curbside pickup available. Delivery is not permitted at this time, and cannabis patients may use telemedicine for card renewal only.

Louisiana

Medical dispensaries are open for curbside pickup, and have been granted temporary ability to make deliveries. Telemedicine for cannabis purposes is permitted for existing patients only.

Maine

Maine’s medical dispensaries are currently open, though the state is yet to issue a calling on essential status. Both delivery and telemedicine are permitted, though curbside pickup is not allowed.

Maryland

Essential business status has been granted to Maryland’s medical marijuana businesses. Dispensaries remain open, with both delivery and curbside pickup options permitted. Telemedicine can only be used for medical marijuana card renewals.

Massachusetts

Medical dispensaries have been given essential status during the shutdown and remain open, though recreational stores have been closed as nonessential in Massachusetts. Delivery is encouraged for medical patients, and regulations have been loosened to allow wider delivery ranges to accommodate. Additionally, doctor’s consultations can now be conducted via telemedicine.

Michigan

Michigan has granted essential status to both medical and recreational dispensaries, and has issued an immediate statement allowing delivery for all dispensaries. The state has also allowed for curbside pickup and ordering, and encourages consumers to use these options where available. Telemedicine is allowed for card renewal only.

Minnesota

Minnesota has a very small medical cannabis program with just two dispensaries. While an official essential status has not been granted, these dispensaries have been granted exemption from the stay-at-home order. Renewal of medical cards can be done via telemedicine, but new recommendations are not allowed.

Missouri

The launch of Missouri’s medical dispensary system has been delayed by the virus epidemic. Dispensaries are not open at this time, and it is unclear when they will open. Applications to register for the state’s medical marijuana program are allowed via telemedicine, and are still being processed and approved.

Montana

Montana is not currently under lockdown. Medical dispensaries are open and operating as usual. Patients can renew their medical marijuana cards using telemedicine, but cannot get approval for new recommendations.

Nevada

Both medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries have been given essential status by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak while the city is on lockdown. Beginning May 1st, dispensaries are allowed to offer both delivery and curbside pickup for marijuana purchases. Doctors can give medical recommendations by telemedicine, as well as issue renewals.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire officials have yet to issue a shelter-in-place order, so no call has been made on essential or nonessential status. However, the state has issued guidelines for medical marijuana during the crisis, limiting store hours, strongly encouraging pickup and for patients to call ahead before venturing to their dispensary. State officials have made special allowances to approve curbside pickup and telemedicine (for both new certifications and renewals).

New Jersey

The Garden State has ruled medical dispensaries to be essential during the lockdown and have issued new guidelines for operating with curbside pickup. Delivery is not allowed at this time. An initiative to allow for medical marijuana certifications died in committee early in 2020, as a result, telemedicine cannot be used.

New Mexico

Medical cannabis businesses have been granted essential status, and are open during the lockdown with both delivery and curbside pickup options available.

New York

The state of New York has declared medical marijuana stores as essential businesses during the lockdown, a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo told NPR. Certifications may be issued via telemedicine. Delivery options are available, but no word on curbside pickup at this time. Check back here for updates.

North Dakota

There has not been a lockdown for the novel coronavirus yet in North Dakota, and medical dispensaries are open. The state allows for delivery as well.

Ohio

Ohio’s medical marijuana system has been given essential status, and remains open. The state has allowed for call-ahead orders over the phone (which were previously not allowed), though patients must still enter the dispensary to complete their order and pay. Delivery is not available at this time. Patients can receive doctor’s recommendations and renew their existing certifications via telemedicine.

Oklahoma

The state has given essential status to medical dispensaries, which are currently operating. Oklahoma officials had originally not allowed curbside pickup, but have since reversed their stance. Delivery is still not permitted in the state. Qualifying patients can apply for certifications and conduct renewals using telemedicine.

Oregon

Oregon has not issued an official essential status to cannabis dispensaries. However, those businesses remain open. The state recently issued temporary allowances for curbside pickup, and extended medical patient purchasing limits to match possession allowances at 24 ounces per day (no more than 32 ounces per month). For the foreseeable time being it seems the industry will be allowed to continue operating. Telemedicine for cannabis recommendations is restricted to renewal only. The state allows for delivery of both med and rec.

Pennsylvania

Medical cannabis businesses have been exempted from the lockdown order and given essential status. A number of regulations have changed to adapt to COVID19 concerns: Curbside pickup has been approved, telemedicine is allowed for card renewal, and monthly purchasing limits have been waived.

Cannabis Flower
Be sure to call ahead before visiting your dispensary to check for special restrictions. photo credit

Patients may purchase up to their 90-day possession allowance (up from their previous 30-day amount limit). There is no longer a limit on the number of patients a caregiver can take, and caregiver background checks have been temporarily waived to further expand access for those in need.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has issued medical dispensaries essential status, and they remain operational during the general business lockdown. Patients can get their cannabis delivered. One dispensary has implemented curbside pickup, and the others are in transition to do the same. The state also allows for medical recommendations and renewals by telemedicine.

Texas

The lone dispensary in Texas for medical cannabis remains open during the novel coronavirus epidemic, though it has not yet been granted official essential status. Neither curbside nor delivery options are available. We do not have official word, but the state’s in-depth patient approval process makes it unlikely that telemedicine is approved for certifications or renewal.

Utah

Utah has not yet made an issuance of status regarding medical marijuana, and med dispensaries remain open at this time. The state does not allow for curbside pickup or delivery.

Vermont

Medical dispensaries in Vermont are currently open, and are permitted to make deliveries and curbside pickup sales. The state is yet to issue a lockdown order, so not call has been made in terms of essential or nonessential status. Telemedicine is permitted for card renewals only,

Washington

Washington State has deemed cannabis companies to be essential during the lockdown. Both med and rec stores remain open, but are available for curbside pickup only. No in-store sales or delivery are permitted. Patients may renew their medical registrations using telemedicine as well.

West Virginia

Though West Virginia does have a medical marijuana program, dispensaries are not open yet.

Canada

Across Canada, many stores are closing of their own accord, but are currently allowed to stay open, with the exception of Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island has closed all storefronts and is allowing online ordering only.

Ontario passed emergency to remove all private-sector cannabis stores from the essential business list and force them to close their doors. However, in a fortunate turn of events, the province quickly overturned these regulations. Another emergency order was passed recently allowing private-sector cannabis stores to stay open and sell cannabis through an online/phone ordering system with store pick-up. Government owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) are operational for adult-use cannabis sales as well.

In other Canadian news, same-day delivery has been suspended, but online ordering and delivery are still available in many places. We will try to gather more detailed cannabis information for Canada as it is released.


Stay safe everybody and be sure to check beck for updates as they occur. Please reach out in the comments below with any questions, comments or concerns.

Photo Credit: Daniel Oberhaus (license)


Matthew Mongelia Matthew Mongelia

Matt Mongelia holds an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has worked in the cannabis industry in various roles for 4 years, from dispensaries, production and retail to events, content and marketing. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.



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