Medical marijuana dispensaries in Ohio have been given the option of providing curbside pickup of cannabis products for their patients in an effort to help control the spread of the coronavirus. The temporary permission to complete medical marijuana purchases outside dispensaries was announced on Friday in a bulletin from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.

Under a resolution adopted by the board, medical marijuana providers will be permitted to conduct sales transactions outside of the licensed dispensary area under certain conditions.

“Examples of authorized sales include delivering product to a person in the parking lot of the dispensary, a person at the front entrance of the dispensary, or a person at a walk-up or drive-thru window of the dispensary,” reads the notice from the board.

To comply with the temporary rules, transactions must be completed on the dispensary’s property, such as a parking lot or sidewalk. Deliveries to a patient or caregiver’s home or other off-site location are prohibited. Before transactions are completed, dispensaries are required to check a patient or caregiver’s medical marijuana registration and approved identification. The provider must also verify the patient’s recommendation and ensure that they are not exceeding a mandated cap that limits patients to a 90-day supply of medical marijuana.

Dispensaries must also comply with several other provisions, including allowing employees to take frequent breaks to thoroughly wash their hands. Transactions must be completed in view of a dispensary surveillance camera and a security guard must be present at all times. Sales outside a dispensary will only be permitted between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. The board noted that dispensaries are not required to complete transactions outside the building.

“This is a choice for dispensaries to consider; it is not mandated that you implement sales outside of the dispensary department,” the notice continues. “Please consider your safety and the safety of your employees if you decide to implement this option.”

Dispensaries Ask For Relaxed Rules

Under an executive order issued by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine last month, schools and nonessential businesses in Ohio were closed and residents were asked to remain at home to reduce spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Essential businesses and services were permitted to stay open during the order.

The board indicated that medical marijuana dispensaries would be treated like pharmacies and allowed to remain in operation. But strict regulations on medical marijuana sales made it difficult to comply with social distancing recommendations, prompting providers to ask that the rules be relaxed during the continuing pandemic.

“There are certain adjustments to the program that can take place to make (dispensaries) function more like traditional pharmacies,” said Thomas Rosenberger, associate director of the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association.

In addition to curbside pickup, medical marijuana providers also asked that the 90-day supply rule be modified so that patients and caregivers could make fewer trips to the dispensary. Medical marijuana patient Anthony Cordle told local media that he feels unsafe in the dispensary he frequents, which is often crowded.

“The counters are 2 feet apart,” he said. “You can touch the person next to you. You have to touch all the doorknobs (when you walk inside), and who knows who cleans those.”

The Board of Pharmacy has made some other changes to regulations during the continuing pandemic, including allowing physicians to conduct patient consultations via telemedicine instead of a required in-person visit. The board’s temporary regulations are scheduled to stay in place while DeWine’s emergency order is in effect.

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