Executives order issued by Governor Jared Polis on March 20 will temporarily allow curbside delivery at marijuana dispensaries, and also permit doctors to issue medical marijuana cards remotely. Both orders were made in a statewide effort to limit the impact of coronavirus, according to Polis, and are set to run through mid-April.
While pre-ordering marijuana products that you later pay for at the dispensary is already legal in Colorado — and something that many pot shops have suggested customers do to avoid interaction during the virus spread — paying for orders online and then picking them up curbside was not allowed until Polis’s new executive order.
“I temporarily suspend the prohibition on retail marijuana store online sales…to facilitate pick up by consumers twenty-one years of age and older in a manner consistent with social-distancing guidelines promulgated by the [state Department of Public Health and Environment],” Polis’s executive order reads.
To be clear, this order does not affect sales inside dispensaries, which are still allowed to be open. But this Chick-fil-A-style drive-up service for dispensary orders will also be allowed until April 18 to encourage Coloradans to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggest people stay at least six feet away from each other while in public.
How these payments will be processed is still being determined, according to sources close to the situation. Although largely a cash-only business because the plant’s federal prohibition scares off most banks and credit card companies, there is some hope within the industry that debit cards can be used online to help facilitate orders and cut down on cash exchanging hands.
In the same list of executive orders, Polis also lifted a rule requiring physical examinations for the issuance of medical marijuana cards “to prevent exposure of COVID-19 among medical professionals and medical marijuana patients,” according to the edict. Because medical marijuana visits and examinations are banned from being conducted via telemedicine, any patient visit to apply for or renew a medical marijuana card had to be done in person. Now these evaluations can be done remotely, at least until April 18.
“We see quite a few immuno-compromised patients, whether they’re taking steroids for an autoimmune disorder, they have cancer, or they’re just elderly. These are the same people coronavirus wants to attack,” medical marijuana physician Dr. Peter Pryor had told Westword when urging for this change. “As an emergency medicine doctor, I just figure I’m going to get this. But telemedicine could protect me from getting it, protect me from spreading it if I do get it, and protect my patients from getting it.”
On top of such safety measures as curbside delivery, increased social distancing within stores and amped-up sanitization measures at dispensaries, some store owners are hopeful that new marijuana delivery permits will be fast-tracked at the state and local level, to further limit human interaction at marijuana stores.
So far, only one dispensary in the state has such a permit: the Native Roots Dandelion store in Boulder, which already had a decade-old, defunct law on the books allowing delivery; after the Colorado Legislature passed a law allowing delivery in municipalities that approved it, Native Roots as able to apply for a state permit.
Right now, Denver would have to approve delivery in order for dispensaries in the Mile High City to apply for a state permit to start delivery.