Curbside pickup and telehealth sessions are the ways Florida’s medical marijuana dispensaries are continuing to serve customers during the coronavirus crisis.
“We feel honored that we can use our platform to help our fellow Floridians find, access, and understand the resources available to them and are thankful to our long-term community partners in helping us do so,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, in a statement Friday.
Trulieve has dispensaries in Vero Beach and Stuart.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to so many; not just to our Trulievers, but to the communities we are fortunate to call home.”
Dispensaries such as Trulieve, Curaleaf and Columbia Care in Stuart are able to continue operating on the Treasure Coast because the medical marijuana industry has been named one of the many essential businesses permitted to operate during the state’s safer-at-home initiative.
“We are working hard each day to minimize risk by implementing new procedures and policies at our dispensaries,” said Curaleaf, which does business in Fort Pierce and Jensen Beach, in a statement.
The first operating hour of each day is now prioritized for patients and customers 60 years of age or older, Curaleaf officials said. The company has also placed a curbside delivery option on its website.
Overall, Florida has nearly 328,000 registered medical marijuana patients.
Those residents obtained medical marijuana cards because they suffer from a list of maladies that includes AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and more. Their doctors referred them for the card after an examination.
In mid-March, state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued an emergency order giving participating doctors permission to conduct recertifications via remote telehealth chats for 30 days. That’s only with existing patients.
It’s not known what role medical marijuana could play with a patient suffering from COVID-19.
Dr. Jessica McCain, of Southern Comfort Marijuana Clinic, shows examples of different medical marijuana products a patient could purchase at a dispensary. HANNAH SCHWAB/TCPALM
In Washington, D.C., Justin Strekal of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says misinformation about what cannabis can and cannot accomplish in this crisis has resulted in a sharp spike in calls to his office.
The industry would have more answers for such callers if federal lawmakers removed marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value. That would allow research to be done with pot, he said.
Another top priority, Strekal says, should be national quality control standards, particularly over the legal and nonpsychoactive form of cannabis known as CBD.
Online fraudsters, he said, are exploiting fear by promoting CBD as a panacea for COVID-19. Sellers across the state have said they’ve been asked whether CBD can protect the immune system, or if it contains anti-viral agents.
The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota contributed to this report.
Stancil is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Contact Stancil at 321-987-7179 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @TCPalmLStancil
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