Health Dept-Temporary Changes to Medical Marijuana Program to Assist Cardholders During COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennsylvania, the department is taking steps to assist those who need this form of medication.

“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 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.”

As of March 20th, certain statutory and regulatory provisions have been temporarily suspended in order to implement the following changes in response to the COVID-19 emergency:

  • Allowing dispensary employees to provide medical marijuana to a cardholder in their vehicle on the facility’s property;
  • Remove the current cap that limits the number of patients assigned to one caregiver, to allow for more caregivers to patients in need;
  • Eliminate background checks for caregiver applications, limited to renewal applications only, in order to expedite the caregiver renewal process;
  • Waive in-person consultations and allow for remote consultations between approved practitioners and medical marijuana cardholders for renewal certifications only; and
  • Waive limits that allow for medical marijuana to only be dispensed for 30 days by requiring approved practitioners to notate on the patient’s certification to dispense a 90-day supply.

The statutory and regulatory suspensions will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency is in effect.

Statewide, there are 268 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 2,574 patients who have tested negative, and one death. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.