Medical Marijuana Is 'Life-Sustaining,' PA Officials Say

This article originally appeared on the Bensalem Patch

HARRISBURG, PA — Medical marijuana dispensaries and growing operations may remain open during the state-mandated shutdown due to the new coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that it is taking steps to help residents who need medical marijuana during the outbreak.

"In the midst of COVID-19, we need to ensure medical marijuana patients have access to medication," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "Medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries are considered life-sustaining businesses under the governor's order for non-life-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."

The health department has temporarily suspended some state rules in response to the coronavirus shutdown.

  • Marijuana dispensary employees may now deliver medical marijuana to cardholders in their vehicles on the facility's property
  • The current cap that limits the number of patients assigned to one caregiver has been removed to allow caregivers to help more patients
  • Background checks for caregiver applications have been eliminated. This is limited to renewal applications only, to speed up the caregiver renewal process
  • The requirement for in-person consultations has been waived. Remote consultations with approved practitioners is now allowed for renewal cardholder certifications
  • 30-day supply limits have been waived and approved practitioners may dispense a 90-day supply